MARQUETTE COUNTY, Mich. (WJMN) – You’ve probably heard of composting, but have you heard about vermicomposting? It all comes down to one word: worms.
Vermicomposting is the product of the decomposition process using worms to create a mixture of decomposing vegetable or food waste, bedding materials, and vermicast.
“Every week we pick up food waste from local restaurants and Northern Michigan University and we bring it to our site here where we mix horse manure and hay and leaf litter and other carbon materials and build these long windrows,” said Aaren Joki, vermicompost site manager/operator at Partridge Creek Farm.
The wind rows heat up and then the worms move in and over a year, the food waste and manure becomes vermicompost is worm manure. Vermi is latin for worm. Then after it’s done we push the wind rows into a pile to dry and we run it through our sifter where we sifts the rocks and the worms out. And then out of the sifter we get really nice vermicompost .”
Properly disposing of food waste could make a big difference in not only our farming but also our future on Earth.
“Food waste when it goes into the landfill with just the typical garbage it goes through anaerobic decomposition without oxygen which generates a lot of methane gas, which is one of the biggest greenhouse gases. It’s way worse than carbon, and actually, if all food waste in the world was composted or used as animal feed, it’d offset carbon emissions from automobiles pretty significantly,” said Joki.
Once the vermicompost is produced, Partridge Creek Farm uses the product in its community gardens in downtown Ishpeming. The non-profit also bags some of the compost to sell to help raise funds for its educational programs.
“We’ve collected almost five-thousand gallons by volume of waste product just this year that goes into the process where we create our own compost. And that compost is not only important to our growing of the food, but it’s also a revenue stream for us,” said May Tsupros, director of programs and partnerships. “So, a portion of those proceeds goes directly into the programs that we provide for free to the community in order to access healthy food and also have that education about healthy food and nutrition as well.”
Partridge Creek Farm hopes to expand its composting operations in the near future.
“We want to start doing home composting, so compost pick-up from homes potentially if that’s a way to do it, a way to get more waste in a viable business model for us. We really, really want to create drop-off sites for people to put their compost and we want to expand to some businesses,” said Tsupros.
We’d love to pick up from the grocery stores as well. All the food that doesn’t get picked over and starts to rot at the grocery store. we’d love to pick that up and also turn that into viable compost that is created in Marquette County and goes back into the gardens and food production in Marquette County.”
Joki offers ways you can compost at home:
If you would like to donate food waste to Partridge Creek Farm or to learn more about their operations, click here.