Friday, February 13, 2009

Educate your kids and save the world with worms

Okay, I'm exaggerating about saving the world -- but maybe not too much. After nearly ten years of thinking about it, I am finally a worm farmer. We've had a compost bin for seven years, and we have compost piles all over our farm, but vermicompost is even richer than what you can make in a regular compost bin, so I finally took the plunge. Monday I attended a composting seminar, and at the end of the day I attended a session where we made our own bin and got our worms. I wrote about it on my farm blog.

I've always thought this would make a great homeschool project, and even apartment dwellers can do it. In fact, they should do it, because not only is it educational, but it will use up all of their kitchen scraps and keep them out of landfills. Worms will even eat things that you shouldn't put in a regular compost bin, like gravy and potato salad, which have too much fat in them for traditional composting. Then the vermicompost can be used to fertilize container plants, such as tomatoes and peppers grown organically in front of a sunny window or on a patio.

Now, what about saving the world? Garbage is one of the biggest problems we have facing our society -- really. When I was a reporter in the Chicago burbs, it was one of those topics that cities were always talking about. Landfills fill up, and no one wants a stinky landfill in their backyard, so municipalities are paying more for having their garbage hauled farther away. Solutions like worm bins can help our society.

But who wants a stinky worm bin in their apartment? Worms need oxygen, and as long as your bin has plenty of oxygen, it won't stink. It's an aerobic process, and if your worm bin or traditional compost bin starts to stink, it means you're heading into an anaerobic situation.

And, about saving the world -- it really isn't an exageration to say that educating your kids could save the world someday. It is entirely possible that some homeschooled kid with a worm bin could grow up to figure out a permanent and earth-friendly solution to all of our garbage problems.