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Worm Power Composting Made Easy

The Urban Garden Dream

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Worms make great pets. They're quiet and all they do is make compost fertilizer. In fact, they eat their own body weight in food waste every day. Worms are a wonderful symbol of the diy compost.

"Worms make great pets. They’re quiet and all they do is eat and reproduce. In fact, they eat their own body weight in food waste every day. Worms are a wonderful symbol of the power of one." So begins a class in vermicomposting (composting with worms) at City Farmer’s Compost Demonstration Garden in Vancouver. Instructor Ellen York is in full costume. Her long black T-shirt reads: Black Gold and the Power of One. Her worm earrings undulate creepily from her lobes as she belts out the "Compost Rap" to surprised participants.

Apartment dwellers in Vancouver have been taking advantage of this subsidized city program for seven years now. After a one-hour mandatory "wormshop," graduates take home a bin, worms and all the vermi-nalia they need to start a balcony worm farm; all this for $25. With worms selling for about $40 a pound, it’s a steal of a deal. The end product is a dark, nutrient-rich fertilizer for your flowers and garden.

"In the GVRD (Greater Vancouver Regional District), we produce over two million tonnes of garbage annually. That’s enough to fill BC Place Stadium twice," says York. "Just by recycling, you can cut your garbage down by a third. By adding composting into the mix, you can cut it down by another third."

Diversion of organic waste from worm composting makes up a small percentage of the above figure, but municipal solid waste departments, keen on getting their 3Rs message out, are hopping on the worm wagon anyway. "Worms capture people’s attention," says Al Lynch, head of the North Shore Recycling Program. "One article on worms in the local paper generates more calls to us than a whole series on backyard composting. Those calls give us opportunities for more education." In addition to municipal programs for apartments, many schools in the Vancouver area are putting worm bins in classrooms. City Farmer has found homes for more than 4,000 bins in classrooms and apartments in the last decade.

"Some people get very creative when it comes to their worms," says York. "We’ve had people make worm bin coffee tables. Can you imagine the conversations they have when guests drop by?" Another graduate named her pets "the Supremes" and swears they sing Motown when she leaves her apartment!

To find out more about worm composting in your area or to register for a City of Vancouver wormshop, call the Compost Hotline at 604-736-2250 or visit the City Farmer website at cityfarmer.org.

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