The early bird gets the worm – or rather, in the case of this Saturday’s worm composting workshop, an entire pound of worms.
Project Compost will host their spring worm-composting workshop at 11 a.m. near the tri co-ops, where attendants will receive a free bin with live worms. The worms are in limited supply, so early or on-time arrival will ensure a bin, organizers said.
“Worm composting is perfect for students and apartment dwellers because it doesn’t smell or take too much time,” said Alexa Sommers-Miller, unit director of Project Compost and third year environmental resource science major. “It’s great if you don’t produce that much waste and still want to make use of it.“
The workshop, located on campus across from the Segundo housing complex, will also address how to care for worms, what to compost, uses for compost and the biology of worm reproduction.
“It’s like a worm orgy in those bins,” said Education and Outreach Coordinator Liz Fitzgerald of the worm reproduction necessary to harvest worms for composting.
Yesterday, volunteers and officers collected the worms from the co-ops worm containers, which have been housing the multiplying worms since last quarter’s workshop. To have access to as many worms as Project Compost does, one would have to order them from outside of Davis, Fitzgerald said .
Last spring’s workshop hosted approximately 75 students and community members, said Fitzgerald, a junior American studies major. The workshop is part of Project Compost’s education portion of their listed duties. The unit also partakes in “action,” or collecting compostable waste around campus to add to their compost pile on the Student Farm property.
Organizers estimate that to construct a similar worm bin on one’s own would cost approximately $30, since a pound of worms typically costs about $15, and the bins cost the same. Additional supplies like soil and paper are generally easy to find, however since Project Compost collects all supplies, the workshop makes it “pretty easy,” Sommers-Miller said.
Project Compost started as an internship with R4 Recycling in the fall of 1999. As its popularity grew, it became its own unit of the student government in the fall of 2001.
“It was evident that there was a large source of organic materials that were entering the campus landfill,” said Derek Downey, a fifth-year biological systems engineering major and former unit director of Project Compost. “UC Davis is an agricultural institution, which schools about 25,000 people and houses a copious number of animal barns. Research showed that composting systems would best divert these materials.“
Downey started as an intern with Project Compost and was the founder of the worm farm now used to “grow” worms.
Project Compost also plays a large role in the upcoming Whole Earth Festival next weekend, which boasts the title as the first zero-waste festival in the U.S. Volunteers and officers collect compostable items from the festival, in addition to running small workshops at the “resource recovery zone” throughout the day. Last year, nearly 98 percent of the waste generated at the festival was either composted, recycled or reused, Sommers-Miller said.
As a unit of ASUCD, Project Compost receives most of their funding from student fees, in addition to donations and small sales of compost.
“Students are paying for this unit in their tuition, so they might as well attend these workshops,” Fitzgerald said. “Even if they don’t want to compost now, they can learn for later when they maybe have a house or a garden.“
Meetings for those interested in volunteering for Project Compost are held Mondays at 6 p.m. on the Quad. For more information, see Project Compost’s website at projectcompost.ucdavis.edu.
LAUREN STEUSSY can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.