Thursday, October 6, 2011


If you've ever visited Mark and I, we've probably given you the worm tour.

Yes. Worms. Lots of them.

Our large, green Rubbermade tub sits just outside the kitchen. We covered the top with black weeding fabric to keep out light and allow for circulation. Inside lay thousands of Red Wigglers amid a mixture of newspaper, peet moss and various vegetable scraps. The return is the best compost we've ever used. We also cut our garbage haul in half. It's been impressive, to say the least.

Lots of folks wrinkle their noses when I tell them we have worms at home. I can imagine it sounds gross at first ... they must smell or take up a lot of room. My father can barely get over the concept- his daughter keeps worms as pets. For the record: They don't smell. They don't take up a lot of room. They don't make any noise. Best. Pets. Ever.

For the past four years Mark and I have lived in apartments, mainly on the second floor. We're urban farmers and utilize a community garden plot between Clinton St. and Iron Works Rd. We want to compost, but when you don't have a yard to speak of, that part gets complicated. Worms were the answer.

That's where Joan came in.

Joan's Famous Composting Worms to be exact. We bought two pounds of them from her at the Concord Farmers' Market several years ago. They've been happy, healthy and well fed ever since.

Joan O'Connor has managed the Concord and Manchester Farmers' Markets for as long as I can remember. She has a dynamic personality and it is clear that she loves what she does. I consider her a true embassador for Concord's environmental community. And she was delightful when it came to setting us up with our new leg-less brood.

We've been thrilled with the results thus far and our worm collection has steadily grown. As long as we have enough to feed them, they control their population well.

This vermicomposting is one component of keeping our eating habits sustainable. Sure, there's little guilt in throwing out compostable food waste ... it'll break down eventually, right?

The problem with sending *anything* to a landfill is always the same- if air can't get to it, it won't decompose. Landfills hinder natural processes for the most part. Composting is the most efficient (and affordable way) to dispose of biodegradable material. And it's fun! What a killer science project for your kids- or, for teachers, your classroom?? Personally, I like the idea of harnessing a powerful force of nature hidden in some of its smallest and more helpless life forms. They eat the food that we eat. They create nutrients for our soils, which helps grow new produce. We've got our own "circle of life" happening in a Rubbermade storage container. The whole concept makes me giggle. And it's beautiful.

I want to bring this kind of sustainability to other people. No, I don't want to put a bucket of worms under every kitchen sink, but I sure don't mind having them. Why can't I give my clients the peace of mind that their food scraps have a higher purpose? I would like to think I can give people a chance to eat the way they've always wanted to - to have a deeper connection to their food and the land that it comes from. There's a lot of power in that. And from those small gestures come bigger ideas; greater movements toward connection and preservation. ... All because you threw the apple core in the worm bin and not the garbage. How da'ya' like that?

We'll be harvesting some compost from the worms soon. I just threw a good two pounds of apple waste in their bin yesterday after making a batch of apple sauce. I need to give them a few days to pick them apart.

In the mean time ... there's more cooking to do.

Love to all!

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