Hello Worm Lovers <3 The fellowship has commenced! This month I am visiting the Netherlands to learn more about their worm hotels. What drew me to this compost solution was the decentralized nature of the worm hotels, each hotel serves about 20 households, and how they are able to easily blend into the urban setting of Amsterdam (and surrounding cities). I think there is a common misconception that compost is only for those in rural settings, or at least large yards. I initially fell in love with worm composting because it was the only composting method available to me in my small apartment. These worm hotels or wormeries, serve as a great example of how composting can take place in cities. (Many times these worm hotels are placed directly on the sidewalk!)
Want to know more? Here are some quick observations from me.
Do they smell? There is a slightly earthy, food-waste smell when you are standing directly next to it, but from about a yard away, I couldn't detect any smell.
Are there flies? I did notice some fruit flies hanging out on the top of one of the models, but nothing major.
How big are they? I don't have exact dimensions, but they seemed to range from 4x4ft (compact), 3x6ft (taller), 4x6ft (wider).
How are they harvested? Most have some sort of panel at the bottom that allows for collection.
What material are they made of? Mostly wood with plastic fittings.
What about in the winter? I talked with a worm hotel designer that said due to the relatively mild winters and heat given off by the food waste, the cold hasn't been an issue.
I still have lots of questions about how these worm hotels can be built to best suit the worms and users needs, which I hope to answer before I leave. Overall, it's been inspiring to check out all the different worm hotels design and it has become like a scavenger hunt for me.
On the home front, I am very grateful to my family and my partner for looking after B2TD's operations. Though we are still adjusting to the trade off, I appreciate their dedication to keeping the business moving along. Admittedly, July brought its fair share of hiccups. Despite my best efforts, I was unable to make our DIY rotary composter work sufficiently before I had to depart. Currently, it is not fully rotating the waste. The rotation increases aeration and agitation, which is the key benefit of a rotary composter. As a result, I'm not getting the speedy break down the machine was built to produce.
As a result, I've had to asked for help. Paul at Valley View in Milford generously came to our aid. For the meantime, the majority of the food waste we receive will be going to Valley View and the compost will be used to improve the soil of the farm on-site. (Don't worry—we will still be holding back some food to feed our worm friends). This will, however, disrupt our worm casting production and worm give-back. This was sad to accept because when I set out with the business, my hope was to serve as a source of high quality worm castings for the region and to provide members with a tangible reward for their composting.
In every setback, there is an opportunity--at least that is what the optimist in me tells myself. My hope is to use this disruption to 1) Find a more permanent home for B2TD (not in a backyard) that will be less disturbing to its neighbors. 2) Find better ways of processing community scale amounts of food waste. I know how to do it on a small scale and I've seen large scale operation, but I hope to learn more about how people in the in-between operate successfully.
We've composted over 11 tons of food waste since we started tracking. This is about the weight of an anchor on a cruise ship. Though most of the weight in food waste is water, it's fun to see how far we've gotten with just some worms living in your typical basement and later backyard.
Fun fact: The Netherlands is the second largest agricultural exporter worldwide and are known for their exports of flowers, cheese, tomatoes, and more!
Hi Everyone:) I hope all is well. This past week, Cincinnati was bathed in smog from the Canadian Wildfires. After years of associating the foggy, grey haze with wildfires in the Western US or densely population cities like Beijing, it was surprising to see the smokey air in my own backyard. Though dawning a mask to work outside safely felt slightly apocalyptic, we were lucky to only be affected for a few days. The reminder of how connected we and our environments are did not escape me.
In June, we composted 1491 lbs.
Besides taking off a few days due to the air pollution, June has felt like nonstop work. It's been a huge push month as I've tried to get the new system up and running (without my neighbors hating me too much). This includes building a rotary composter, which will hot compost and turn the the food scraps..at least when I get it working...the "automated" part still has a ways to go. Though I wanted so desperately to finish it by June, I've learned that setbacks are unavoidable. For now, I've added food waste and have been turning it by hand. It makes fixing the composter more difficult, but the food scraps keep coming in and they have to go somewhere.
I've also been constructing what I've nicknamed "Worm Towers" out of the excess culvert pipe. (Let me know if you can think of a better name). They also need some tweaking, but are almost finished. Pre-composted food is shoveled into the top and, although, it is hard to tell from the pictures, there is a grated bottom that the worm castings can fall through.
My hope is to have everything in working order by the end of July, in time for my fellowship. Though the likelihood of that is questionable, the best I can do is try. Wish me luck!
Fun Fact: Earthworms have about 100-150 segments made of muscles and bristles. The earthworm use segments to either contract or relax independently to cause the body to lengthen in one area or contract in other areas.