Updated: Dec 21, 2018
Since the dawn of time earthworms have tunneled their way underground, making meals of decaying matter and providing a crucial service in the cycle of life. We'd argue their existence and contribution to the food chain is as important as the revered honey bee. Their castings are a vital part of fertile soil, adding nitrogen, phosphorus and other nutrients. The castings also bond soil particles together, helping to retain moisture for longer periods. Worms loosen and aerate the soil they tunnel through, making it easier for roots to thrive. Worm tunnels act as an irrigation system to roots and also as a channel for delivering minerals like lime. And, in their final selfless act, decaying earthworm bodies contribute to the nitrogen and moisture content of the soil in which they expire.
Using worms is a clever and fun way to harness the power of nature for multiple benefits. Since much of the waste in our kitchen garbage is food waste; since our landfills are filling to capacity; since most food waste isn't able to properly decompose in landfill environments; and since compost is beneficial to growing more food: we recommend using worms to close the food waste loop and create compost to grow more food! Worms can easily (and happily) convert tons of food scraps into nutrient-dense compost.
There are several methods to vermicomposting. We use both standard bins and flow-through bins. Each has its advantages and disadvantages! From start to finish, the vermicompost process can take 3-6 months depending on many factors including waste content, bin size and temperature. Since we use partially pre-composted matter and keep our worms in a cozy temperature-controlled environment, vermicast is typically ready to harvest in about 4-5 months. The castings are separated from worms and non-composted material manually. The unscreened form is then sifted through a number of screens until only pure castings and compost remains. Uncomposted bits are returned to bins for further processing. The resulting vermicast is tested regularly for mineral and microbe content.
Since food scraps can produce varying results when composted, we are hands-on with what goes into the bins. After years of working with food waste, we have a tried and tested recipe for food waste content and other yard waste material content. We like to think of our vermicast as a true craft product resulting from a time-honored process. Our vermicast is currently sold in 4 qt bags within a 20 mile radius of Richmond VA.
All this is possible because of the residents and businesses of Richmond! By partnering with an RVA-local farm, Richmonders ensure that food scraps and other compostable materials stay right here in RVA. Our ethical, no-kill chicken farm also plays an important role in composting food scraps. Chickens are tireless workers that help us sort through piles of food waste, prepare garden areas for planting, and provide an invaluable fertilizer!
If you are interested in turning your food waste from ordinary trash to compost treasure, contact us for a compost bucket! We'll deliver your first bucket right to your door, typically within two weeks of signing up. With your bucket will be a packet that contains useful information and items to welcome you on board. Spend the next two weeks putting your food waste into the bucket instead of the trash. We'll come back after two weeks to take your bucket away, leaving behind a clean, empty bucket.
Each bucket we collect comes with perks. After 20 buckets are collected, use your bucket credits at our farm store. You can redeem credits for compost and/or vermicast. But we understand that not everyone gardens, so we also feature a number of local, organic and hand-crafted items that are RVA-local and totally earth-conscious to reward you for your precious scraps.
Ready to join us? Let's make a difference today!