Profile: The Organic Mechanic

Go behind the scenes at Organic Mechanics Soil Company with Mark Highland

By Denise Cowie

Photography by Christa Neu


Mark Highland, president of Organic Mechanic In 2006, having lined up family members as investors, Highland launched Organic Mechanics, and he hasn’t looked back. This year, Organic Mechanics potting mixes will be officially endorsed by Organic Gardening magazine, with a percentage of proceeds to be donated to the Rodale Institute. The company is also partnering with Midwest Trading in Chicago to make locally produced mixes available to more midwestern garden centers.

And that’s not all: There’s a new seed-starting blend that’s expected to be on the market in the spring of 2012. Highland plans to produce more private-label mixes for independent garden centers, as he already does for American Plant in Maryland and Virginia.

Specially tweaked blends are also marketed to public gardens. Both Chanticleer and the Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College, in the Philadelphia suburbs, have used a custom blend in their extensive container gardens for several years.

“We were looking to use a peat-free mix for our annual container display, and the mix he developed for us has worked really well,” says Rhoda Maurer, the assistant curator and greenhouse manager at Scott. “We tried some other peat-free mixes, but this one—and Mark’s work with sourcing things locally—seemed the best option for us,” she says. 

Organic Gardening has awarded its “Seal of Approval” to the Organic Mechanics Soil Company for its organic potting soils and soil amendments. Organic Mechanics soils were selected because of their organic, environmentally sound composition and the company’s sustainable production practices.