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WORMPOOP 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 tiger worms.

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 and sustainability;

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 beds;

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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