The Compostable Vase Invention

It all started with farmer, Meredith Nunnikhoven, wanting and needing to do better and be better for the environment in rural Mahaska County. Several years ago, the public recycling program located in downtown Oskaloosa abruptly ended due to rising costs of recycling processing. Since the 1990s, the farm relied on that public recycling program for everything from glass to tin recycling. After the program ended, she also found that her flower customers were having issues with the affordability of recycling, specifically in regards to glass vases. As the glass piles built at the farm, the management became too burdensome with many vases unusable for her unique, custom floral creations. 
The Little Blue Barn farm stand that self serves the public on Fridays & Saturdays Dawn to Dusk. Each weekend it hosts several sizes of compostable vase creations for local flower lovers to pick up. 

In May 2022, Meredith's frustrations of lack of recycling support with the added pressure of no glass recycling in Mahaska County pushed her into finding a resolution. This birthed the development of the innovative invention and patent pending compostable vase that's perfect for her traveling customers. Now fresh-cut flower lovers not only enjoy a vase that's perfect for travel, but also utilizes the environmental aspects of a commercial grade, compostable packaging. The environmental win is in the contents, as the vase allows customers to compost in their own, home gardens post use.  



Meredith designs only with flowers that are grown, not flown. She has several sizes and price points for customers to enjoy. The vase serves as an environmental temple to house chemical free flowers while giving customers an opportunity to return the vase back to the earth.

Meredith's compostable vase currently serves her flower fans up to 80 miles from the farm location, further spreading Barnswallow's eco-philosophy and mission to uphold regenerative farming values and reduce waste and carbon emissions. She believes it's a game changer to the floral industry and she looks forward to further development of the product. 



In 2024 Downtown Des Moines Farmers' Market customers enjoyed the historical introduction and sale of flowers inside the first compostable vases ever released at any nationwide farmers market. DT DSM Farmer's Market is one of the top 10 farmer's markets in the USA! 

*Glass Recycling Updates:

In late 2022, the Mahaska County Dump started a recycling glass program for drop off only. Community members can now recycle glass again, but have to drive it to the dump. Glass is still not a recycled item offered for pick up with local disposal companies.

**In November 2023, the Mahaska County Solid Waste Commission placed a large recycling bin at the Environmental Learning Center in Oskaloosa, Iowa. Glass is still not a recycled item offered for home pick up with local dispense companies. To recycle glass, it must be taken to the dump or to the new bin outside town. Because of this extra effort to drive to this location for glass recycling, there is still a need to improve the recycling system as it currently stands in Mahaska County.