Michael Dean: He makes plants even greener

His company, Gaia Green Products, has been selling organic fertilizers for 25 years

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Michael Dean (L) and his son Andrés spread two types of rock dust on the Learning Garden in Grand Forks. Andrés is now general manager of Gaia Green Products.

Michael Dean (L) and his son Andrés spread two types of rock dust on the Learning Garden in Grand Forks. Andrés is now general manager of Gaia Green Products. — Photo credit: Peter Kalasz photo

Spring is in the air with the rich, sweet, earthy smell of warming soil. If you are an avid gardener, Michael Dean, president of Gaia Green Products in Grand Forks, wants you to feed your soil instead of feeding your plants.

“The most important ecosystem on Earth is the soil ecosystem,” Dean said. “All plants and animals are dependent on soil ecology.”

Dean started the organic fertilizer business 25 years ago and today he’s as passionate as ever. Gaia Green Products received the Green Award in October 2014 from the Boundary Country Regional Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s a great business award. It really makes sense (that we got it),” he said. “We’re very green.”

The company manufactures a complete line of organic fertilizers and soil amendments that are distributed across Canada and increasingly in the U.S. Its best seller is the All Purpose 4-4-4 premium organic fertilizer blend. The 13 ingredients include alfalfa meal, bone meal, kelp meal, blood meal and glacial rock dust, among others.

This fertilizer epitomizes Gaia Green’s products—it is ecologically friendly, slow release, and made from the finest organic and mineral inputs to ensure a complete balance of nutrients. It is free of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.

“One of the main problems with conventional fertilizers is that chemical fertilizers are salt-based and they’re toxic to soil micro-organisms,” said Dean.

Dean’s message is all about shifting the paradigm from feeding plants directly to feeding the soil and allowing the soil to feed the plants. He explained that one teaspoon of healthy soil contains hundreds of millions to billions of individual micro-organisms such as bacteria and fungi. Thus, his organic products have the broadest range of nutrients to activate the broadest range of micro-organisms.

Dean said his best marketing comes from word of mouth of satisfied customers, and he has collected hundreds of stories of increased plant vitality. The organic fertilizers offer these advantages: greater crop production; increased disease and pest resistance; and greater frost and drought resistance.

It was an “aha” moment when Dean realized he could move beyond marketing his products to organic farmers and market them as well to home gardeners who garden often for esthetics. Flowering plants have more blooms that are brighter in colour and last longer, Dean said.

Is the business doing anything to mark its 25-year milestone? Dean said he and staff will celebrate by sharing their knowledge of organic gardening and by expanding their market internationally and more broadly in the U.S.

“Organic fertilizer is good for the Earth and the environment,” said Dean. “Every day is Earth Day at Gaia Green.”

 

Growing people

Gaia Green Products exercises its corporate social responsibility by donating free fertilizer to several selected organizations including the Grand Forks Learning Garden and Sole Food Street Farms in Vancouver.

The Learning Garden is a public demonstration garden adjacent to the Grand Forks Aquatic Centre.

Sole Food transforms vacant urban land into street farms while providing low-income residents with jobs, training and a supportive community of farmers and food lovers.

Virginia Rasch

Virginia is a writer and copy editor with Koocanusa Publications. She is an avid outdoor recreationist in all seasons and has lived in the Kootenays for 10 years. With degrees in the natural sciences, she has worked as a tour guide, an environmentalist, a writer, and a copy editor of scientific publications. Virginia now brings her passion for everything green to Kootenay Business. View all of Virginia Rasch’s articles

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