How it Began

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The grass roots movement of Wilmington Compost Company traces back to the days Riley Alber spent as a boy wandering the woods of Southern New Jersey, fascinated with the wonders of the Pine Barrens and blessed with a proximity to the Atlantic. Growing up in the Garden State, surrounded by forest, farmland, and water, Riley’s childhood provided a unique balance of outdoor influences that constantly drew him outside of the house into nature. The indoors was never an option. During the summers, Riley’s parents would enroll him in the local “Wetland’s Institute,” where a combination of fun, science, and being in the sun instilled a passion for Riley to work with the land and become familiar with the many creatures that inhabit it.

Being an avid surfer and fisherman, Riley enrolled at the University of North Carolina Wilmington after high school—graduating a few years later with a B.A. in Environmental Studies, a minor in Geospatial Information Systems, and certifications in Natural Resources for Conservation and Management and Wildland Fire Management. The combination of his varied education led him into land surveying, where he finally found himself back in woods much like the ones he grew up in as a boy. Despite his love for being in the woods full time, the purpose of the work did not align with Riley’s beliefs, and so he soon took on the role of an educational tour guide for UNCW MarineQuest Outreach Program. Much like the Wetland’s Institute, Riley was back on the water in a kayak, only now he was the one informing the next generation of thinkers how science can be fun, informative, and most importantly, positively impactful!

As Riley transitioned from the Outreach Program into Organic Farming, he developed a clarity and immense desire to take action to close a loop in the circle of sustainability, hence the Wilmington Compost Company was born. By implementing a service to collect compostable waste material from both commercial and residential partners, and embracing wholeheartedly the mindset to compost responsibly, Riley has become a local “go-to” in the composting world of coastal southeast NC. Today, he continues to drive support and influence to this grass roots movement through local participation in programs like Keep New Hanover Beautiful, and our local Coastal Composting Council. You'll find him most Saturday's at the Tidal Creek Farmer's Market spreading his passion for nature, sustainability, and community.