IS NATURE'S BEST FERTILIZER. Start a Vermiculture
composting project in your backyard. Worms do the work
twenty-four hours a day. It's easy and fun, too! All you have to
do is save your fruit and vegetable scraps and other organic
waste and feed the waste to red worms (Eisenia fetida) is the
scientific name, they are also called red wigglers, manure or
It doesn't help the environment when we throw
valuable nutrients down the garbage disposal or send it to the
landfill. In fact, when we throw valuable nutrients away we stop
the continuous life cycle process of things being born, living,
dying and being reborn again.
Turn your food waste into a rich
organic natural soil by using worms to eat decaying material and
turning the waste into a beautiful rich organic material called
black gold wormpoop or castings. Wormpoop helps restore
nutrients back into the soil and helps plants grow stronger with
deeper root systems making them more drought tolerant.
I am Marcia L. Iannone, an environmental consultant and a
Vermiculture Specialist. I became interested in this process
while employed as the Recycling Coordinator for an environmental
program entitled, LandLab "A Center for Education and
Research in the Sustainable Use of Resources," at the
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, California. I
worked at the University from 1984 through January 1998.
In March 1992 I started experimenting with vermiculture
composting (using red worms to reduce food waste) at my home. It
didn't take long to realize how useful worms were in reducing
food and paper waste. The beautiful rich soil created by the
worms was so beneficial to replacing nutrients in soil that I
decided to implement a pilot program at LandLab as part of the Expanded
Campus Recycling Program. On December 7, 1992 a pilot
Vermiculture Composting Demonstration project began on a
four-acre site adjacent to the University.
The Vermiculture Composting Demonstration Site was an important
educational tool teaching basic concepts necessary to restore
and regenerate the soil to a healthy state. Setting the example
and implementing the four R's of recycling: reducing, reusing,
recycling, and restoring the environment was critical.
The Vermiculture composting project had been in operation for
eleven months when a LandLab Small Grants Program became
available for faculty, staff, and students. In October 1993 I
submitted my "Request for Proposal" and
received a $4,000 grant to further the research on Vermiculture
composting. The grant was entitled, "Vermiculture
Composting Demonstration and Re-utilization Site at LandLab".
This grant money was used to continue with the research on
Vermiculture Composting, designing and constructing worm-bed
boxes and a worm harvester to separate the worms and castings.
The entire project was constructed using recycled material
collected from campus.
Specifically, design experimentation was undertaken to:
1) Provide better designs for worm-beds that would
simplify the harvesting process requiring less manual labor;
provide continuous shade for the red worms, and to create an
environment conducive to reproduction, regeneration
2) Experiment with different methods of harvesting and
separating worms from the worm castings,
3) Provide staff, materials, and tools necessary to
collect and transport food waste to feed to the worms, monitor
temperature levels, make observations, record information, and
take steps necessary to maintain a good pH balance in the worm
4) Provide community demonstrations and materials
essential to educate tour groups in the Vermiculture process,
and demonstrate and promote the concept of recycling by
re-utilizing waste material collected from campus in the
construction of the worm-bed boxes and in the construction of a
worm harvester/casting separator.
The Re-utilization portion of the grant was important to
demonstrate the many avenues available to REUSE campus
resources. Thus implementing waste management practices and
completing the recycling loop ethic: reducing, reusing,
recycling, and restoring material to a second life. There
are alternatives to wasteful, excessive and unnecessary
purchases. We have a choice but first we need to consciously,
"Think About It".
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