My first wormery

Most adults remember as kids digging around in the dirt in the search of worms fascinated with them riggling but more importantly teasing and scaring others this ‘scary’ and slimy creature. At the time little did we know about how these creatures are so important to us all, a bit like the bees and other animals that help and regulate our biodiversity.
As an adult, I never really grew up from a kid with my fascination with worms. Surrounded by gardeners I learned over the years great respect for these revered creatures and bought my first ‘wormery’. The initial intention was to do my bit and recycle my family’s food waste without having to put it in the normal bin. Before long I saw how the worms chomped through our families scraps and produced compost. Not just ordinary compost but stuff my vegetables and plants seemed to love. Not only that I started to produce even more worms!

Tackling food waste

So over the last ten years as I have produced more compost and more worms. I have gradually increased the number of ‘worm bins’ and sourced more ‘waste’ for them to chomp on. I very much kept this to myself as I thought folks might see me as a little weird or weirder than I normally am! I didn’t think my fascination with worms was really a conversation starter or would be of interest to anyone else. That said there was a growing frustration building that very few people could see the value of worms in addressing modern-day problems, in particular, relating to how to deal with food waste.

The issue of food waste is close to my heart. I oversaw the delivery of food services “food bank” in today's terms for over 15 years in a previous role working with vulnerable people who didn’t have ready access to food. It was frustrating for me to see so much ‘food waste’ going to landfill when it could be put to better use either by feeding people or developing the means to feed people ie composting or teaching people how to grow their own food.Therefore I decided to come out of the closet with Newburgh Worms with the initial idea of starting to educate people that there was an alternative way to deal with their food waste. I published a Newburgh Worms Facebook page and was overwhelmed with the immediate interest and support. I was not alone. Other adult ‘kids’ latched on to the common sense of what worms do thing and got in touch. The current environmental challenges at the forefront of many peoples thoughts both individuals and businesses offered me many challenges with respect to their own challenges.

One such challenge came from a local brewery in Peterhead in that they produced a considerable amount of plastic waste in the form of single-use plastic beer kegs! They wondered if these items could be used in connection with worms and recycling food waste. With my own personal interest in craft and local beer-making, I rose immediately to the challenge. I took delivery of my first batch of kegs and spent many nights in my shed thinking of, trying out and modifying the kegs to best suit the needs of my worms and their need to chomp in the right conditions and environments. I also had to consider how to not only to produce compost but to enable them to reproduce. After many ‘prototypes’ I managed to find a design which allows me to multiply the production of vessels which are fit for purpose.

My page went live just before the COVID-19 lockdown. A number of local schools who were developing their school gardens had been in touch expressing interest in adding worms or vermiculture to their plans, not only as planned curriculum item but as part of their circular gardening program.

Now, I have the worms, an unlimited supply of worm houses and with their ravenous appetites, all I need is a supply of food. Recalling my experience in food services I contacted CFINE in the knowledge that a proportion of foodstuffs in their operation would be out of date and otherwise be destined for landfill or be in such packaging likely to be acceptable for food waste recycling, which a lot of people don’t realise is very costly for them and similar charities. Already in the space of a few weeks, my worms have chomped through a massive 100 kilos of out of date bread, rice, fruit, powdered milk and veg producing more compost and worms.

Inspired by Bob at One Seed Forward, my goal ultimately is to supply every school that can and wants to adopt worms into their gardens, the means, education and support to venture into the world of vermiculture. CFINE’s help with their out of date foodstuffs helps this dream become a reality.