Keegan O'Leary is Oakville's first Junior Worm Farmer and is excited about the prospect of creating compost from organic waste.
Junior Worm Farmer Day
By Howard Mozel
Oakville Beaver Staff
This Saturday is Junior Worm Farmer Day in Oakville.
Yes, you read that right: from 10 a.m. to noon about 40 young invertebrate ranchers, aged seven to 10 years, will learn to raise Red Wigglers to make compost from organic waste as part of a Halton Region pilot project. The project helps encourage youngsters to recycle as an environmentally-aware program for their schools.
After all, "vermicomposting" is a perfect way to convert organic material into nutrient-rich compost using worms known as Red Wigglers, the benefits of which include a reduction of garbage headed to landfill. (The average Canadian produces a ton of waste each year and an estimated one-third of this is organic matter.)
The Red Wigglers, however, are efficient little eaters who consume half their body weight in waste every day and their own by-product, or castings, is a natural and nitrogen-rich fertilizer ideal for house plants and gardens.
Saturday's event takes place at the offices of ConnectUs International, located at 379A Kerr St. with Cathy Nesbitt of Cathy's Crawly Composters, providing the worms and the expertise.
"I know there are plenty of parents who would want to encourage their children about the environment," said Donna Messer of ConnectUs. "We want to do this as many times as possible.
Vermicomposting encourages children to put their organic leftovers (everything but dairy products and meat) into their worm bin so they can watch natural recycling in action with no unpleasant smell. When it's time to harvest the castings, worms can easily be redirected away to make the collection job easier.
"You can actually herd worms," said Messer. "They're easy to keep and they do their job."
Worms work faster than traditional composting and can be used all year - outdoors when the temperature is appropriate for them, inside during the winter. Even their "bedding" - shredded newspaper, leaves, coffee grounds and filters - wind up as castings, too. Crushed eggshells act like surrogate teeth for the worms by helping grind up organics as the creatures move.
According to Messer, children will not only have fun while they learn, but can start a fundraising activity at school by selling the castings as fertilizer. (This is already in use nourishing flowers along Kerr Street.)
The worms can also teach kids a biology lesson or two, since one handful of the critters will soon become two once they reproduce.
Messer said her grandson, Keegan O'Leary, is "Oakville's first worm farmer". He is thrilled by his home composter, said Messer, and will be a speaker at Junior Worm Farmer Day. Attendees - who are coming from area schools and summer camps - will also be treated to the special video, Worm Mania, a worm mascot and a kitchen catcher. (A starter kit can be purchased for $29.95.)
"It'll be the kids who will be stars of the day," said Messer, who can be reached at 905-337-9578 for more information.
"We're all pretty excited."
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