Detroit compost company wins Martha Stewart contest

Maureen Feighan
The Detroit News
  • Detroit Dirt compost compost company wins food category of Martha Stewart American Made contest
  • Beats out more than 220 other food finalists

Pashon Murray is in a dirty business — and it’s paying off.

Murray, co-founder of Detroit Dirt, which converts manure and food scraps into compost, won $10,000 as the winner in the food category of Martha Stewart’s 2014 American Made contest.

Detroit Dirt beat out more than 220 other food finalists to win the contest’s food category in agriculture and sustainability. The contest rewards entrepreneurs and artisans across the country for innovativeness, creativity and workmanship in four main categories — food, design, craft and design — and several subcategories.

“It’s an honor to be a Martha Stewart American Made Winner,” wrote Murray on the firm’s Facebook page. “I’m grateful for this accomplishment. Thank you for your prayers, all of you are a part of my success, this is not a Pashon Murray’s accomplishment. This is our award for all of the hard work that we have contributed.”

Founded in 2011 by Murray and Greg Willerer, Detroit Dirt is located in southwest Detroit and converts herbivore (or plant-eater) manure from the Detroit Zoological Society, organic food scraps from local restaurants and occasional dropoffs from nearby coffeehouses and breweries into mineral rich compost. But it’s about more than compost, says the company.

“On the surface Detroit Dirt’s work is making compost, yet on a higher level there is something much greater and far more rewarding: creating a complete circle of life in Detroit that helps recycle lives for generations,” says the company in its bio on the American Made website. “Detroit Dirt’s soil builds the foundation of urban sustainability.”

Aside from winning Martha Stewart’s contest — one of only 10 winners nationwide — Detroit Dirt and Murray are having their moment in the spotlight. Murray was featured in a Ford commercial about her company and was a featured speaker at TEDx Detroit earlier this month.

Thousands of artisans and entrepreneurs entered Martha Stewart’s American Contest this year; more than a dozen finalists were from the Detroit area alone. Along with $10,000 in cash, Murray and Detroit Dirt wins a trip for two to New York in November, tickets to the American Made event, a chance to be featured in Martha Stewart Living, and other prizes.