Of all of the thousands of types of worms, red wigglers are the best for vermi- (worm) composting, Cathy Nesbitt told a group of students in grades 4 to 6 at St. Charles' School.
That's because they are voracious eaters, eating half their own weight in food every day.
Ordinary composting - allowing moisture, warmth and bacteria to break down organic matter into compost - is "boring!" Nesbitt said. Using the red wigglers and vermicomposting is far more fun, once you get over the "yuck" factor.
"I was afraid of worms before I started my business," admitted Nesbitt, who launched Cathy's Crawly Composters 8 years ago. Now, she's fascinated by the creatures, which have no eyes, no ears, but can sense light and vibration; and which have 5 hearts.
"They're nature's original recyclers," she told the students. "Worms are here to serve us. They're God's gift to Man."
The students asked questions, and in answering, Nesbitt exploded a number of myths. Cut a worm in half, and you don't get two worms. With only 1 head and 1 mouth, only the "business" end of the worm will survive, and grow back its tail - but only if enough of the original worm remains.
And, she said, "Worms don't bite - worms don't have teeth. They might just poop on you, though."
The students handled the red wigglers - about 800 worms per pound - and set up a vermicomposting unit, which will remain at the school to compost lunch-time leftovers.
But, warned Nesbitt, "No meat, no dairy, no sauce." Meat and dairy products take too long to digest, leading to unpleasant odors - and the salt and vinegar in some sauces can harm the worms.
"The kids were so wonderful," Nesbitt said after the workshop. "It was really, really high energy - great questions!"
Nesbitt is known for her worm presentations in Ontario schools, but this was "the first time in a long time" that she has come to a Bradford-area school, and shared her passion as Canada's "worm lady."
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