City of Vancouver subsidizes compact composters

Mother Nature has given us yet another way to participate in nature's cycle – and this time, our ally is none other than the red-wriggler worm.
The scientific term for this new interaction with nature is vermicomposting, but it is more commonly referred to simply as worm composting.
Traditionally, a compost system requires a backyard, which inevitably excludes citizens who live in an apartment or home without such a luxury. Worm composting, on the other hand, requires only a patio, balcony, or small space in one's closet, and can be used indoors or outdoors. Though backyard compost bins use a lot of yard trimmings, worm bins can only take food scraps.
The miracle bin starts off with the `brown layer', composed of newspaper and straw. Sand and water must also be added to the bin so that the worms can breathe and eat the food that you place in the bin. To start off the compost, one litre of food scraps is added each week. Half a pound of worms are then added to the mixture. And if this sounds a bit overwhelming, there are loads of Youtube videos and workshops to help you along the way.
``It's really quite simple once [people] know the process,'' said Michael Levenston, the executive director of City Farmer.
It's an excellent way to dispose of food scraps, specifically raw fruit and vegetable scraps, tea, coffee grounds, and eggshells. It is important to have a balance of these products, says Levenston, so as to create a hospitable environment for the worms.
City Farmer is an organization out of Vancouver that encourages urban dwellers to ``pull up a patch of lawn and plant some vegetables, kitchen herbs and fruit.'' It began in 1994, and was the first website to offer information about urban farming. They have now expanded from the website to provide workshops and other invaluable information.
Worm composting ``allows us to return badly needed organic matter to the soil'' says City Farmer.
For Vancouverites, a worm compost `kit' is available for the subsidized cost of $25, and this includes everything one needs to get a worm compost going. Included in the package are worms, bedding, the container itself, and a mandatory one hour `wormshop' that teaches you everything you need to know about getting a worm composter started.
These workshops fill up quickly as this is a very popular concept, and the next available `wormshop' is not until November.
There are a limited number of worm composters available annually, and Levenston predicts four hundred will be distributed by the end of this year, down from six hundred in 2008.
``People leave with the whole kit and the knowledge,'' says Levenston.
In as little as four months, you'll have a bin of delicious, healthy, and moist soil, all thanks to those hard working little wrigglers.
For more information on worm composting, call the Compost Hotline at 604-736-2250 or visit City Farmer at www.cityfarmer.info.

// Samantha Thompson,

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© 2011 The Capilano Courier. phone: 604.984.4949 fax: 604.984.1787 email: editor@capilanocourier.com