Earthworms & Sustainable Farming

Dateline: 19 February 2008

For years I’ve been intrigued with the idea of growing earthworms, and I’ve been meaning to get an earthworm box going. But I haven’t done it. Same goes for making sauerkraut. What’s wrong with me?! They are both such simple things to do, and they are important things to be doing, and they are fascinating projects. Well, I’m hoping 2008 will be the year I finally do both...

In any event, I’m interested in earthworms because they can be used for composting (it’s called vermicomposting). And when worms get done with the work of “digesting” organic matter, nutrient-rich worm castings are left. Those worm castings are awesome-good organic fertilizer. You probably already knew that, didn’t you?

Well, being the avid agrarian that I am, I’ve been thinking a lot about compost, and worms, and gardening, and all of that. It is, after all, February in the Northeast and I’m dreaming about this year’s garden. This year my garden is going to be the best one I’ve ever had! Of course, I say that every year.

With that in mind, I have been perusing some internet vermicomposting resources, and I discovered a story titled, “My Grandfather’s Earthworm Farm.” I started reading the story out of curiosity and discovered that it wasn’t quite what I thought it was going to be. I thought it would be about a fellow who raised worms to sell as a business. Instead, it was a story about a man who used worms to compost all the animal manure and bedding on his farm, and he spread the castings with worms on his fields, for 60 years.

But the story is more than that. It’s a story of an entire 160-acre, farm in northern Ohio. This farm was as close to an “ideal farm” as I’ve ever heard. It was a diversified, sustainable small farm that was successful. Such farms were once common in this country. Now they are very rare.

When we do see those rare examples of modern-day, diversified, sustainable, small farms (like Grant Gibbs’ Farm in Washington State) I think it is safe to say that compost is an integral part of the sustainability equation. And worms, whether in the compost, or in the soil, as a result of high levels of organic matter, are a common denominator.

Compost is critically important for any organic gardener/homesteader like me, and it’s critically important to any sustainable agricultural endeavor. That’s something to keep in mind.

And now, having said all of that, I hope you will take a few minutes to read the story. I think I’ve read it five times in the past three days. I love this story. If you like to read about things like compost, and earthworms, and gardening, and husbanding the earth, and livin' the good life, you're going to like this story too. Here’s the link: My Grandfather’s Earthworm farm

1 comment:

Lynn Bartlett said...

In the middle of your entry I remembered back to when we lived in the city ... One year my Mom came to visit and decided I needed some manure in my garden areas around the house, so she went to work and mixed it into the soil. I spent the later summer/fall killing millipedes that kept finding their way into the house! My birthday that year was quite memorable, as I remember removing about 50 of those things from my dining room floor!