- Miscellaneous: Vermicompost (Worm Castings) (Worm Tea)
- Education and Training: demonstration, youth education
- Energy: byproduct utilization
- Farm Business Management: value added
- Production Systems: permaculture
- Soil Management: composting, earthworms, soil quality/health
- Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems, public participation
Within our current system, food waste is an endemic problem. Recognizing the latent potential in what is often cited as 41% of overall generated waste, there are a number of ways to reclaim and put this latent resource back into a sustainable energy cycle. Left to current methods, food waste is a staunch contributor to global warming, creating methane gas as a bi-product of its putrefaction in the non-aerobic environment that is our common landfill. In addition, this great mass of waste (41% overall) also requires regular transportation, causing more use of fossil fuels in an effort to remove the resource from its community of potential use.
One solution to the above stated problem is to keep food waste where it is created. This can be achieved by implementing a method of upcycling via the materials latent potential. Through vermicomposting practices the once discarded and costly food waste becomes an abundant resource for generating the nutrient rich soil amendment known as worm castings. By shifting the current paradigm, we tap into a new market for food waste reclamation that is sustainable and cyclical in its use as a resource.
Within the 23 month grant period our goal is to take the 200lbs of worm livestock afforded through this grant and to grow that stock to 1000lbs. Doing so would allow us to accommodate the processing of 500lbs of food waste per day resulting in a yield of roughly 5,000lbs of worm castings per month. This intentional slow-growth model will allow for the identification of best practices, reliable community partners and applicable markets.
Through the test plot component of this grant we will have clear evidence and an example of the benefits of worm castings in a controlled growth environment. These results will be used for educational purposes and for marketing of the worm castings. The grand hope beyond the grant cycle is that this specific approach to food waste mitigation become part of the county’s food policy plan mirroring in scale that of our current recycling program. As a grand bonus, the community would be flush with rich soil and an extended life for our city dump. This venture seeks to be both economically and ethically sustainable in approach, practice and outcomes.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Create a business model for worm castings production, promoting the formation of partnerships on a larger scale and providing evidence and example that food waste can be handled sustainably, profitably and locally as a valuable resource.
- Positively impact the environment by investing in the sustainable transformation of an under-recognized and abundant resource (food waste), which will be converted into compost rather than being sent to the municipal dump.
- Empower farmers economically by creating a new market from the production of worms and worm castings, which may provide a new source of income and create new jobs.