Tuesday, November 13, 2007

science, nature, and service

We started vermicomposting about 6 months ago after I got a small bag of red wiggler worms from a friend of mine. This species of worms prefer the conditions in rotting vegetation, compost and manure piles and are a little different from the earthworms that you might find in your yard. They are perfect for eating through the kitchen scraps of a vegan family! The worms live in a bin on my front porch. I started the bin with layers consisting of a bed of wet newspaper, then the worms on top, then added the food scraps, then a layer of leaves or dirt or something just to keep the flies off. I drilled holes in the bin (which is actually just a plastic bin from the dollar store) to allow for drainage and airflow. They did try to escape after the first day. Apparently, if the conditions are not just right for them they will leave. I put them back in the bin and just tried again, not changing anything. They must really like it in there now because they have multiplied and eaten through so many scraps over these few months. I don't give them much attention. I feed them about once a week or less depending on when I remember to do it. I'm sure I went several weeks at a time without even looking in the bin. The girls really like the project. I have to admit, I'm a little grossed out by the creatures. One worm doesn't really bother me but when I have to look at so many all bunched up together it's different. Then I remember that they are so harmless and move really slowly.

Yesterday, we decided to separate the worms from their castings. This worm poop is what is so good for the soil because it is so rich in nutrients, even more so than regular compost. There are many ways to harvest the castings and I think the way we did it was the most complicated. We just dumped everything out of the bin, put on gloves and started separating the worms from the compost. It was a long process because as I said before there are tons more worms now and, amazingly, no recognizable food in all that rich compost. Then we put the worms back in the bin and I'll be adding the compost to the garden. The girls were very interested in the little guys. They talked to them and would try to get as many worms as they could in their hands.

The girls and I are part of a Roots and Shoots group. This quote from the organization's homepage explains the group best.

(www.rootsandshoots.org) "Roots & Shoots, a program of the Jane Goodall Institute, is a powerful, youth-driven, global network of more than 8,000 groups in almost 100 countries. Together, youth of all ages are taking action to improve our world through service learning projects that promote care and concern for animals, the environment and the human community."

Our local group is just starting up. We are still trying to work out some of the details but basically we are just a group of families who want to make a positive impact in our community and the environment. We have lots of ideas and plan on meeting at least once a month. The first meeting we talked about birds and migration and made bird feeders out of orange juice cartons. These last 2 pictures are of our 2nd project doing a trash pick up at a park. It's amazing how much fun kids can have picking up and sorting trash.


Anonymous said...

I always think I couldn't be any prouder of our family. Then, Jennifer, you add another dimension to our family life. Thanks for all you do...for us.


Anna Morrison said...

again, i am a kruidenier wanna be

the group that is starting up is really neat. powerful stuff you are doing, jen. i am truly inspired, girl.

Scott said...

Daniel, are we planning yet where we are going to work together? Let's figure out how we are going to collaborate on writing projects and demand that a university hire us as a tandem.

Lesley said...

Me too, me too. We can prove that science and philosophy can learn from and compliment each other. And that university needs to be in the southern Appalachians! Oh yeah and I recently thought of a book that I think you might enjoy - Consilience: the unity of knowledge, by E.O. Wilson.

Hope yall had a nice time in AL.

Love, Les

Anonymous said...

Yes(Scott and Les),
we should plan ahead. And I agree with Les that it should be in or as near as possible to the Southern Appalachias. Wow, that would be amazing. We had a wonderful trip to AL. More on that later.