About Us

Company

Merlin Organics is dedicated to replacing chemical fertilizers and pesticides with the natural biological process of nutrient cycling; producing healthier, greener and more pest- and disease-resistant plants than found in conventionally fertilized landscapes; establishing organic land-management programs that are less expensive to maintain than landscapes that use conventional fertilizers and pesticides; and reducing water usage versus conventionally fertilized sites.

Our team primarily works for organizations and institutions that manage large landscapes, helping them convert from conventional management to organic methods and working with existing organic programs to optimize results. In addition, the company provides services to select agricultural and residential clients.

Team

  • Tom Pew

    Tom Pew

    Tom founded Merlin Organics to help owners and managers of large-scale landscapes replace chemical fertilizers and pesticides with the natural biological process of nutrient cycling to produce healthier, greener, more pest- and disease-resistant plants and soils than found in conventionally managed landscapes. His first-hand knowledge and expertise in Merlin’s methods and practices were gained from decades of practical study and formal training in organic land management and 38 years of managing the same garden, citrus grove, and turf in the Sonoran Desert.

    An Arizona Extension Service Master Gardener and lecturer on bio-sustainable methods, Tom currently serves as co-investigator on a cutting-edge scientific trial in Plant Pathology at the University of Arizona that explores mechanisms by which plants protect themselves and maintain defenses against devastating crop diseases. Tom initiated these studies, which use Merlin Organics’ formula of Aerated Compost Tea.

  • Troy Hollar

    Troy Hollar

    Troy is an entrepreneur with over 20 years of diverse experience in management, brand-building, media production, and technology development. At Merlin Organics, he is responsible for company operations and oversight of all client and research projects. Troy designed the cooperative University of Arizona–Merlin Organics TRACT (Turf Response to Aerated Compost Tea) Trial, a multi-year scientific research project studying how aerated compost tea application affects soil and plant health in turfgrass.

    A lifelong organic gardener, he has cultivated small-scale crops in the Midwest, the heart of New York City, and now in Southern Arizona. Troy was awarded the Eleanor Roosevelt Humanity Award in 2007 for his long record of community service and efforts in promoting positive social change. He holds and B.A. in History from the University of Michigan and is an MBA candidate at the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management.

  • Omar Garbareno

    Omar Garbareno

    Omar is an Arizona native and 5th generation Sonoran rancher. Growing up seeing the impact of industry and population on the land helped Omar develop an affinity for the diverse biomes of the southwest. After graduating from the University of Arizona with a multidisciplinary degree, Omar worked in education and Eco-tourism, developed sustainable ranching programs in Mexico, and worked with groups like the Nature Conservancy and the Northern Jaguar Project.

    Taking these opportunities to bring positive growth to this special and unique part of the world led Omar to Merlin Organics. Since being employed with Merlin Organics, Omar has been certified by Dr. Elaine Ingham, Soil Foodweb Inc, and the Sustainable Studies Institute in Compost Technology and Compost Tea. He currently lives in Tucson, Arizona.

Associates

  • Joost van Haren, PhD

    Joost is Assistant Research Professor at Biosphere 2 (B2) at the University of Arizona. He works with Merlin as a scientific consultant.

    Joost’s work includes studying links between microbial ecology/activity and biogeochemistry to increase our understanding and predictive capability of how microbes affect the atmosphere. He currently serves as lead scientist of the B2 rainforest and coordinator for the Amazon-PIRE field course in Brazil. He develops research programs that address the human role in greenhouse gas emissions and how humans can maximize our land use for both food security and greenhouse gas mediation.

    He earned his MS in Geology and Geophysics from Yale University and his PhD in Environmental Science from University of Arizona.

  • James Sottilo

    A Merlin consultant and recognized leader in organic plant health care and sustainable environments, James has honed a proven and proprietary chemical-free approach to green landscapes that encourages and enables each landscape to become a living system. His scientific methods, quantifiable results, and personal dedication have garnered accolades and attention from prominent institutions and landscape architects and designers nationally.

    James is a Certified Soil Foodweb Advisor and an International Society of Arboriculture Certified Arborist. A guest lecturer at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University, and former president of the Long Island Arboricultural Association from 2003 to 2005, his portfolio includes iconic projects ranging from public parks and universities to private estates and large corporations.

  • Steve Robertson

    Steve is an ISA Certified Arborist and consultant to Merlin Organics in tree and plant care, protection, and disease and pest management. His career in landscape management has included work as an arborist at Bartlett Tree Experts and as landscape maintenance division manager at Realm Environments in Tucson. He has completed training from Dr. Elaine Ingham in Soil Foodweb and Compost/Compost Tea Technologies.