In 1932, Clara McFarlane suggested to Fred McFarlane that they should buy a truck and deliver Fresh Sawdust for home fuel heat. Fred must have thought it a good idea and quit the concrete business. Clara raised her family of three children, kept the books and took the orders from their “in home” office until 1970. Fred went to work at the infamous “Pit” located at 94th and S.E. Clinton in Portland, Oregon. When John McFarlane was old enough he helped his father, driving, loading and all else he was taught by Fred at the “pit”. As years went by John gave up his plans of going into the Forestry industry and slowly took over handling the family business (Fred was “aging” faster than he should because of a “weak” heart).
John’s marriage to Marge produced nine children: Patrick, Kathleen, Maureen, Daniel, Mary, Michael, Ann, Theresa and Shannon. All have been active with the growth of the business. Many Spring and Summer nights John and his three sons would work till dark and come home late, having to reheat their dinners! In the mid 1960’s John started taking leaves and grass from his landscape accounts. This material was mixed with old sawdust and red sawdust (sawdust starting to age). The material was a popular product with avid gardeners and the landscape accounts. We believe John McFarlane was Portland, Oregon’s first Commercial Yard Debris Composter! The late sixties brought John’s boys into young manhood and they were able to run equipment, the screening plant, perform much of the maintenance and even drive truck by the early 1970’s.
Then too, as the girls grew older they became active in the company. During this same time McFarlane’s performed nearly 100% of the bark blowing on the new interstate freeways throughout the Portland area. In 1970 McFarlane’s moved to their site in Milwaukie (the State of Oregon needed the property on 94th Street for the I-205 freeway!). There was much to do to get the plant up and running to create the many different products. Over the years more sizes of products were created with the help of the Oregon Extension Service mediating between the Oregon Nurseries and McFarlane’s. There were special sizes of bark dust made for some of the nurseries; the Super Fine at 1/4” minus and the Regular Fine at 5/8” minus. In about 1981 Metro Service District contacted McFarlane’s with regards to taking on additional yard debris. Metro was helpful in market assistance and the eventual mandate that Yard Debris is a “recyclable” and not “solid waste”. McFarlane’s takes in approximately 200,000 + cubic yards of Yard Debris annually.
The product is composted and sold as “Compo-Stuff” and mixed with other agents for the Scottish Blended Soil and Irish mix products. The 21st century has brought the 4th generation of McFarlane children into the business! The McFarlane family and staff invite you to visit anytime!