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214. The Organic Mechanics Soil Company | Mark Highland the Organic Mechanic | Chester County, PA
12th February 2018 • GREEN Organic Garden Podcast • Jackie Marie Beyer
00:00:00 01:13:01

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Mark Highland the Organic Mechanic and author of  Practical Organic Gardening: The No-Nonsense Guide to Growing Naturally  is here to share his garden entrepreneurship journey today! Full of golden seeds you won’t want to miss this!

Practical Organic Gardening: The No-Nonsense Guide to Growing Naturally by Mark Highland The Organic Mechanic



WATER LESS video!!!

Can I ask? Are you a millennial? Cause I talk about rockstar millennials all the time. I have this funny story to tell you I have this book I wrote called the Green Queen and I feel like you are the Green King. I was reading your list of water saving tips and I feel like you and I are a lot a like. The reason I came up with the Green King idea is because I was showing the book to my friends in NY and they were like that’s our son the Green King and I feel like you really are the Green King!

Not quite a millennial, more of an X… some of their things like the tech part.

What do you mean your videos are awesome! Your music and stuff I love them!

But I didn’t do those, a good friend. I’m sure you’ve heard the millennials have killed golf and kleenex and cereal and I like those things. I like cereal.

I’m sure there’s some slacker millennials but not the ones I talk to.

They’re just driven honest. IDK too many millennial slackers. I just attended a farming conference, where there’s ton of Millennial farmers! The Executive Director of the Sustainable Ag Institute was talking about how there are 250 million farmers in the world and about 2 million of them live in the US And of US farmers in PA in the young farmers which is under 30 years old 60% are women!

Not just backyard slowly shifting statistics about farmers and how things are changing grand acreage is not even close

sustainable farming I think that is encouraging.

I’ve been reading a lot of statistics lately that a small 1 acre farm produces more food per acre then conventional farms. I mean it’s gonna be a ton of work and take a lot of energy. I think my listeners are those type of people they have more experience then me more like my husband full time gardeners. I call them green future growers .


Organic Farms

Welcome to the Organic Gardener Podcast today! It is Sunday February 11, 2018 and I have an awesome guest on the line and you’ve heard the prechat! 

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His name is Mark Highland and he has a business called the Organic Mechanic Potting Soil

Tell us a little about yourself.

The volume of soil will directly impact

good soil is key

little bit of time and elbow grease

Tell me about your first gardening experience?

I lived all over the place

my first gardening

grandmother’s vegetable garden

walking down the row

  • picking an eggplant
  • asparagus
  • 3 gallon bucket
  • water
  • walking down the rows pouring out this liquid on the plants

down the road

this was my job

neighbor had a dairy farm

anerobics manure tea that was in this bucket

pouring it on the plants

working in the garden when I was little

in school

going for an art major

ceramics all over high school

glass blowing

end of my sophomore year I didn’t want to get my MFA and move to NYC as I was being directed to do. The teachers loved my stuff and were like you can get into this school

  • stay in state find something else
  • found horticulture
  • environmental
  • plant blindness
  • the term

Richard Louv coined that term

Last Child In the Woods by Richard Louv

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder

kids not getting

see the world with a gray lens

  • grass trees shrubs
  • flowers
  • vegetable
  • those are flowers
  • those are trees
  • acorns come from an oak tree

a world that I didn’t know existed


plants and animals everything’s connected

fell in love with horticulture right away

start of things

I did

so eye opening

loved learning about plants and how they work

inner workings of the industry 

You can be a:

  • nursery grow plants
  • trees
  • just work on trees
  • arborist
  • landscaper
  • designer
  • architect
  • nursery grower

you can be so many different things

at the time

in the 90s when I was at the University o Florida


potting in compost

been going to the farming market



somethings Mary

not any good potting soil

maybe someday

moved to

I like that I tried the different jobs in horticulture

  • interior plants
  • farm out in Oregon
  • design build landscaping
  • intervened at public gardens
  • LongWood gardens

University of Delaware


  • arborist plant health technician
  • grunt

only job I didn’t have was a florist

  • get to do that at home
  • bathroom or another
  • so many jobs in this industry
  • be outside
  • some people hate cubicles
  • love being outside
  • helps connect with nature

Another Longwood Gardens Lovestory

I just

good choice

whole path led me to meeting my wife

started bringing

Longwood love story

we stayed because this is a great area

Chester County in PA



on the east side

hour outside of Philly

chester county west of Philly

blessed of

greater gardens of Philly

35 public gardens


really cool one

Philly history…

What is your place like? Do you live onsite?

Organic Mechanics Potting Soil

Don’t live on site

tiny town in median

basically operated last 6-7 years

basically a big ware house we rehabbed

1/2 an acre



bagged and palletized

100% organic

potting soil amendments etc


friend started a company

recycle waste vegetable oil to produce biodiesel

started building gardens

turned into a summer CSA

grows food for Chester County food bank


Cotesville youth initiative

take care of garden

weeding planting


chef that comes in to teach about preparing healthy food

eat from the GARDEN

CSA garden surrounds the property

company itself

running the company is a lot of hours in the week

raising the family

time to write a book

Practical Organic Gardening: The No-Nonsense Guide to Growing Naturally by Mark Highland The Organic Mechanic

Practical Organic Gardening: The No-Nonsense Guide to Growing Naturally

by the Organic Mechanic Mark Highland

It was fun

practical organic gardening

asked to write this book

it was a labor of love

wrote it in 2016

came out around the holidays around 2017

something in it for everyone

great for any beginning gardeners

gardeners who want to learn more

it’s not just about the food

about more of that

a paradigm shift

thinking about the bigger picture and ecosystem

not tunnel vision on your own property

all the subjects

working soil

organic fertilizers

care and cultivation

fighting pests and diseases

propagating plants

self gratifying

harvest seed

take cuttings to multiply your plant sec

section on containers


recycling and reusing

a lot of fun

work with great people

learned from gardeners who were more experienced and taught me things I learned from gardening

can’t discount this

a lot of this is the information

rewarding things in being in this industry

gardening your whole life

10 different gardeners things you never thought of before

strength of an organization is about people who work there


all the schools in the world

been there and done that and is willing to share

poured my heart and soul into this book

things that o

always been a writer

taking complex scientific information and making it assessable

try to do in the book

brain always wants to

how did that work


I like to think that’s one of my strengths

how to water

try not to splash the leaves

most of the time

don’t get those leaves wet


Almost 400 retailers

Maine to florida

out towards Chicago