When Stephanie Harper’s brother-in-law told her about vermicomposting a few months back, she was intrigued. She’d moved to Asheville a year prior and was surprised to find that curbside composting wasn’t available as it had been in her home state of California. “I thought, ‘OK, this is a challenge. I have to do my part.’”
To learn more about vermicomposting, she signed up for a class at Fifth Season, a gardening and “Urban DIY” store in Asheville. “After the class, I bought my materials and I got my worms,” she says. Her materials consisted of a Rubbermaid bin with some holes drilled in the top and bottom for drainage, shredded newspaper, leaves and cardboard. She bought a pound of red wiggler worms from the class instructor. Back at home, her four kids helped her assembled the worm bin. Total investment: less than $40.
Harper stores her worm bin in a closet in the guest bedroom, “worms like dark places,” she says. She feeds the worms veggies, fruit, coffee grounds, shredded coffee filters, brown rice and food scraps. Meat and dairy can’t be included, and she chose to omit eggshells as well because “the worms don’t digest them well.” Though it’s not required, Harper blends the food into a liquid before feeding it to her worms because large solid materials are harder for the worms to break down.
The result of Harper’s efforts is worm castings that she plans to use in her garden. “It’s like gold compost for your soil,” she says. To her, the worms are “kind of like pets.” As Harper explains it, “You feed [the worms] and keep their bedding moist, but the worms do all the work.”
Editor’s note: As part of our monthlong celebration of this region’s commitment to sustainable ways of living and working in community, Xpress is highlighting some of those who are making a difference by taking action on a variety of creative and inspiring initiatives.