Essential Question: How does Vermi-Composting help the environment?

After years of farming and gardening, the soil becomes weak for farming because of lack of the minerals that were once in it. This is because not replacing the top soil. Some people think that by putting cow manure in the soil they are doing a good job of replenishing it, but the job that it does is not good enough. Not replenishing the soil to its full potential is not environmentally sound, therefore it should not be practiced.

We interviewed Al M., a Kingston , NH native and a science teacher at Exeter Middle School, about his worms. Al has been vermi-composting for the past eight years. Vermi-composting is the use of worms to produce compost. It makes sense that the more worms one has the more compost they will then produce. A system is not only a way to produce compost, but a way to breed more worms in their own habitat. He got started when it was offered to him at his school. After he learned how useful it was he decided to bring some home to start his own system. Al is now a producer of worms. He started with one worm system, and has made over 55 systems since then. Each system contains a population of about 20,000 worms.

When I say that he has made over 55 systems I do not mean that he has them all in his basement. He does several things with the new systems he makes. He either sells the systems for a very reasonable price, $50-65, about half of what one would be sold in an organic gardening magazine. The other thing that he does with the systems is give them away to his close friends or relatives who are interested in vermi-composting.

Al feeding his worms.

Now, I know what you are asking, "What is the purpose of Vermi-composting?" The purpose of vermi-composting is to make good soil, and to help the environment in a little way. The compost that comes from the worms is an extremely good one. Not good for fertilizing all vegetables, but for some it does wonders. Al is still trying to figure what vegetables

work the best, and what don't, however he has found that tomatoes come out excellent with it. Using the vermi-compost you are not putting chemicals into the soil, that are pollutants, that make your garden grow big, and do nothing but harm to the soil at the same time. Al also looks at the amount of food scraps that instead of throwing away, creating more trash, he feeds it to his hungry worms. Worms are a decomposer of the food scraps that is put into the systems. It is like a big recycling-cycle. He eats the food-the worms eat the scraps-the vegetables eat the compost-and he eats the vegetables, starting the cycle over again.

These are Al's worms.

The only down point to vermi-composting is that it does take a little work. It actually only takes about ten minutes a week, and about an hour when you clean the system, but there are other things that you have to do. To prepare the containers you must gather leaves for the worms to live in. The other thing is you must be prepared to deal with the smells of it. The systems do not smell when you open the top, but when you get to the bottom there is a distinct odor of rotting food. If you can deal with this than you and your vermi-composting system will be the best of friends, and the environment will thank you for that.

By: Matt H. &

Jason S.

Al M., Kingston NH

Grolier 1997 Multimedia Encylopedia, Vermi-Composting