Friday, July 29, 2016

Vermiculture In The Workplace

Before the term vermiculture was coined, before we had written language, and before we started drinking coffee, worms were hard at work breaking down organic materials and returning nutrients to the soil. We love building soil, and we love good coffee.  So when we met Chris Shepherd of Cafe Altura at a worm composting workshop, we were happy to continue the connection by bringing a worm bin to his workplace.  Chris and his team are enthusiastic about keeping a worm farm going on-site, and we are stoked to help them out. 

Ventura Cooperative's soil restoration efforts rely on vermiculture to build soil diversity and nutrient rich materials to feed plants in the gardens we take care of. Sometimes it can be frustrating to keep a worm colony alive and well, so we provide consultation visits with each worm farm we deliver, to make sure everyone benefits in the transition, including the worms. 

Setting up a worm bin is easy, it's the maintenance that takes a bit more finesse.  What you need is a box, moist newspaper strips, some compost and worms to start.  We provide all these items and a worm colony already established in the farm.  We knew Chris would have ample coffee grinds, which is a great addition to the scraps and other items worms like.  We set up the worm farm right next to the Cafe Altura staff kitchen area, to make it easy and accessible for everyone to use.

After about a month, we came back to Cafe Altura to check on the farm and answer any questions. We took the farm outside and harvested the castings together.  It was in perfect condition.

By having a hands on visit, we were able to share valuable information with Chris' team.  We considered what worms need to live. Moisture, air, food, darkness, and warm (but not hot) temperatures. Bedding, made of newspaper strips or leaves, will hold moisture and contain air spaces essential to a thriving worm habitat.  Everyone was able to see this knowledge at work in the vermiculture environment which helped a lot.  And they were able to take super rich castings back home to their gardens.

We're excited!  Chris and his team at Cafe Altura are located by the Surf Brewery and a few other businesses that are interested in starting their own vermiculture habitats.  They are early adopters and eager to create a more sustainable culture in this area.  Let's help them out! We traded some of our service costs for their organic coffee.  Come on over and have a cup, it's really good!

Special thanks to Madison Choate and the Resource Conservation Partners for connecting us all!

Relevant Links:
Cafe Altura
Resource Conservation Partners

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