BETTY PRICE, an active senior living in a condominium, was inspired
12 years ago at an Environment Day display to try vermicomposting. She
paid $10.00 for the subsidized kit and bedding, and arranged for the
worms to be mailed to her. After reading Worms Eat My Garbage by Mary
Appelhof, and finding a food processor for faster decomposition, she
began placing a weekly buffet under a layer of their damp bedding. Her
reward quickly became rich castings, together with more worms for her
condo's garden, as well as fertilizer for her balcony flower and vegetable
One year, she put all her red wigglers into the garden only to discover
that Toronto had discontinued its vermicomposting program. Without red
wigglers, she set her bins aside until she found supplier Cathy Nesbitt
(www.cathyscomposters.com). Last year, when Price did not have enough
food for her new worms, she began collecting organics from neighbors.
The response was so great that she required a second container. With
her very prolific worms, she soon had six active bins, three of which
were placed in the condo's plant room for the winter.
"Everyone I spoke to was concerned with the garbage crisis and was
delighted to be doing something constructive to help. I will have additional
contributors this summer, as more people are aware of what I am doing
and I will be better equipped to handle it," says vermicomposter Price.
Price asks neighbors to put their food scraps in plastic containers
so she can return them for further use. Often, when she is out, she
returns home to find containers in plastic bags hanging on her door
knob, on the floor, or on her balcony which is assessable from the garden
court. She does most of the work herself. Occasionally, when Price has
accepted spoiled vegetables not suitable for the food bank, neighbors
have helped her chop them up into small pieces for the worm bins. She
recently purchased a 35-gallon container to increase her vermicomposting
"capacity." Price's son drilled holes in the bottom of the container
to keep the liquid from accumulating. "The worms were drowning," she
notes. To make separation of the casting easier, her son recently built
her a screen that fits over a large box. The screen also will help break
down the particle size of the vermicompost. Over the winter, Price found
several potted plants that were practically dead in the condo's plant
room where she keeps the worm bins. She needed some soil to cover the
top of a bin, so took the plants out of their pots, sprinkled the dirt
over the surface, then placed the plants in the bin as well. As testimony
to the power of the compost, Price notes, "those plants are thriving
now. They are in bloom!"
"Everyone I spoke to
was concerned with
the garbage crisis
and was delighted to
be doing something
constructive to help.
I will have additional
summer, as more
people are aware of
what I am doing and
I will be better
equipped to handle
In late March, Price approached the owner of a local market about putting
in a worm bin in the corner of a lot used as a garden center during
the warmer months of the year. He agreed to the idea, and Price is working
out the details. Produce trimmings as well as materials from the gard,en
center will be composted.
As an amateur traveling photographer for the United Church of Canada,
she has given members red wigglers for their backyard composters. This
spring she plans to talk to her women's group about her experience with
vermicomposting: "I'm pleased that Toronto started composting. Each
individual can make a big difference and I hope that all who compost
now, will continue, perhaps adding red wigglers to help speed up the
process. It may be a little more work but the results and personal satisfaction
are well worth the effort. I plan to keep my bins working as long as
I'm able to do it since our garden needs the compost. I feel that it
is a worthwhile project and I enjoy doing it!"
It was an honor to meet this amazing great-grandmother at Toronto's
Canada Blooms Expo recently where she volunteered to help at the Composting
Council of Canada's (CCC) display. Staff at the CCC noted that Price
was a real inspiration, not only to visitors but also to themselves
and other volunteers alike.
COLLECTING ORGANICS FROM HOMES
Presently, Toronto uses green bins to collect organics from all residential
homes. Also, there are 15 apartment buildings, of different sizes, participating
in source-separated organics pilot projects. Two of these have the large
Molok containers. For the others, tenants are taking their kitchen catchers
that include meat and bones, as well as disposable diapers, pet wastes,
and kitty litter to the 35 gallon green carts located beside the apartments'
recycling bins. As the results so far have been favorable, there will
be another 15 buildings added this year. If these pilots are successful,
the green carts will begin to be phased in for multiunits in 2007.
The city still wants homeowners to continue backyard composting but
unfortunately has discontinued its backyard and vermicompost programs.
Although the green bin, with its wide array of organics accepted in
plastic bags, is good for diversion, we also need to create purer soil
conditioners for ourselves that not only put nutrients onto our garden
areas but also save tax dollars on collection and processing.
As rooftop gardening becomes increasingly popular, and with townhouses
and high-rises needing fertilizer for their plants, encouragement should
be given to on-site composting and utilization. These can include: three
bin units, insulated worm bins, vermicomposters, community composting,
and teams of Betty Price clones.
An author of children's books on composting, Larraine Roulston
can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And visit the website www.castlecompost.com
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