Partnerships in Food Waste Reduction through Vermiculture

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2009: $5,739.96
Projected End Date: 12/31/2012
Region: North Central
State: Ohio
Project Coordinator:
Jeremy Gedert
One20 Farm

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: potatoes, grass (misc. perennial), hay
  • Vegetables: sweet potatoes, asparagus, beans, beets, broccoli, brussel sprouts
  • Additional Plants: herbs, ornamentals
  • Miscellaneous: mushrooms


  • Animal Production: livestock breeding, manure management, feed/forage
  • Crop Production: organic fertilizers
  • Education and Training: workshop, youth education
  • Farm Business Management: e-commerce
  • Pest Management: compost extracts
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture
  • Soil Management: earthworms, composting, soil microbiology, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: public participation, urban agriculture, community services, sustainability measures

    Proposal summary:

    One20 Farm proposes to create a food waste recovery system where the compostable material of a restaurant is converted through vermiculture into castings and byproducts (tea) used for soil improvement on a local farm. Currently in Columbus, Ohio there is no viable system in place where restaurants can recycle food wastes. The waste goes into the landfill where methane is produced causing damage to the environment. Furthermore, restaurants are charged for their use of dumpster space particularly in urban areas where space is limited. Sustainably-minded farmers could use these food wastes but partnership building is difficult without a direct connection and is an added demand on an already heavy load in both industries. One20 Farm will serve as a bridge to connect local restaurants and farmers and to begin a triadic partnership that addresses the interests of all three groups: reducing waste removal costs for the restaurant, reducing landfill wastes and unnecessary damage to the environment, promotion of vermiculture as a composting method, and producing soil improving castings benefiting the crop farmer.

    At Restaurant Site: One20 contacts Two Caterers to establish start date and employee training. Two Caterers will be provided two large plastic bins with lids. Kitchen employees will be trained in 2 hour session on project parameters, briefly on vermiculture, and instructed on what to put in bins. Pickup times are established. At designated pickup time, each bin is weighed and weight recorded. Refuse is transported to One20 for composting. This process is repeated twice weekly throughout project duration. At project completion, One 20 will have a follow up meeting with kitchen staff to gather feedback to improve project model and share results.

    At One20 Vermiculture Composting Site: One 20 will use 8 (3x3) wood bins with mesh screening. Each bin contains 5 lbs of Red Wiggler worms in moist bedding consisting of newspaper, coconut husk, and peat. Bins are housed in a temperature controlled outbuilding to maintain a temperature of 40 degrees in winter not to exceed 75 degrees in summer. Collected food waste is distributed evenly to bins for breakdown. Expected daily consumption rate is ½ the weight of worms, i.e. 2lbs of worms will consume 1 lb. of food waste daily. Vermiculture bins will be checked on a daily basis to ensure proper moisture, food, and temperature levels. After 12 weeks, each bin will be sifted and castings removed. Castings will be weighed and tested for Ph nutrient levels. Weight results will be compared with total weight of food waste and weight
    of worms.

    At Farm Site: Flying J Farm has allotted a plot of land for comparison of soils and measuring soil quality and production. Soil will be tested for Ph/nutrient levels before castings are added. When castings are ready, One20 transports them to Flying J farm in Johnstown, Ohio. In the 2010 growing season, castings will be applied to one half of the allocated plot at the end of each 12 week period. Tests will be done prior to casting administration to make sure that the soil is maintaining appropriate Ph/nutrient levels. Repeat process every 12 weeks. Extra castings, if any, will be bagged and sold online and at local farm markets profiting One20 Farm. During the growing season, ripe produce on both sides of the allocated land will be weighed and compared. At the end of the growing season, final notations and tests will be made. In the 2011 growing season, the opposite side of the allocated land will be prepared with castings prior to planting. The same process used in 2010 will be applied in 12 week intervals.

    Outreach Education: One20 will build a website documenting the project and gathering information on future participants. Also, One20 will create a Facebook account to spread the idea and gather feedback. At project mid-point, local newspapers will be contacted to give information on the project and develop a news story to generate interest in project workshops and future partnerships. Four workshops demonstrating vermicomposting and the benefits of food waste partnerships will be offered. As a resource, One20 will create a publication booklet of potential partners to distribute to key partners and non-profits.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.