Worm farming was not something I ever expected to be involved in. Like many other life journeys, it was the culmination of many things that led to it.
Where to begin? Since I can remember, I have always been fascinated with the natural world. Whether it was hiking around the Delaware Water Gap or discovering things under rocks. It was all fascinating to me.
Around middle school was when I really started to understand more about the environment and how individually we can affect it. I recall a presentation in school about saving on energy costs through CFL bulbs. Although I was unaware of what was in the bulbs (mercury), it seemed like a really good idea to not only save money but also pollute less.
What really pushed me into sustainability and improving the environment was learning about the Passaic River in NJ. The Passaic is part of some of the most interesting natural areas in NJ including the Great Swamp and the Great Falls in Paterson. The river acted as a connector to the larger Delaware River and industries sprung up around it in the 19th and 20th centuries. The industries heavily polluted the river with dioxin and many other pollutants. Even today it is only “safe” to eat one fish per year from certain parts of the river. Some sections where Agent Orange was once manufactured is still not safe to fish.
Learning about the river led me down the path of the environmental ethos of “do no harm.” Or at least try your best!
For a number of years I thought the way forward was to recycle and be as energy efficient as possible. Then while in college I discovered a book by William McDonough called Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Ways We Make Things. The main idea is that industries should focus on making products that can either be infinitely recyclable or can break down in the environment without causing pollution. Although the book was inspiring, I wasn’t exactly sure what I could do.
Although I continued to recycle items and reduce my energy and water use, I was always bothered about how much food waste I was throwing away. At the time I lived in an apartment with no yard so I couldn’t really set up a compost bin on the property. I was talking to a friend about this and he mentioned composting worms.
I was reluctant to take the leap into this with all the horror stories about mismanaged systems and awful stenches from them. Instead of jumping on board I read blogs and other sources to see how others were doing this successfully.
One of the first blogs I discovered and still recommend was Red Worm Composting. It was this site that introduced me to the Worm Inn. Although this product is no longer sold, it was one of the first commercially available breathable, continuous flow through systems. It solved many of the common issues with worm compost systems including over heating, rancid smells, and anaerobic conditions.
After about a year or so of reading how others used the system I finally bought the Worm Inn for myself along with a pound of red wigglers.