The other day I started going through our records to see how many worms we’ve sold in the past ten years. Turns out we have sent out about 20,000 pounds of worms; that’s ten tons of worms. Cup your hands together, and you have a pound of worms. Do that 20,000 times and, Voila, the worms from our little Worm Farm have found their way into homes and schools all over Northern California. Here’s what happened to them.
I have come to find that people love their worms. Yes, sometimes they get off to a rough start and we have some casualties, but people then reorder another batch and with more information in hand, they generally have success. The people who buy worms from us are wanting to have a worm bin in the house. They want to recycle and reuse their organics from their dinner plates, their yard and garden. They want to close their organic waste loop and not put these valuable organics down their garbage disposal.
With that in mind, how many TONS of garbage did we keep out of the landfills and the local waste treatment plants? There are all kinds of wild claims out in the internet universe that say worms can eat up to their body weight in a day. Common sense tells us that isn’t possible. Close records at the worm farm tell me that our worms consume about 28% of their body weight, in food, every day. This is still a pretty impressive number. Let’s see how much the worms ate in the last ten years.
For the sake of making a clean argument, let’s say that 2,000 lbs of worms were already out and in worm bins in January of 2001. Those worms were eating 28% of their body weight in food and other organic matter every day. There are days in the peak of summer, and other days in the winter when the worms don’t eat quite so much. Let’s say that they take 30 days off in the summer, and another 45 days off in the winter. We are left with 290 days of eating 28% of their body weight. Here’s how it breaks down. 2,000 lbs of worms eating 28% of their body weight each day, means they are consuming 560 lbs of food every day. Multiply 560 lbs of food per day, for 290 days and the figure you get is 162, 400 lbs of food eaten – in the first year! That’s 81 tons of food in the first year. By year ten they have consumed 1,786,400 lbs of food, or as the big boys like to say it, 893 TONS of food!!!
Here’s a spreadsheet that shows the total food eaten over the past ten years….
One might reasonably ask how long do people keep their bins going, and don’t worms just up and die. I have talked with thousands of people over the years and it is amazing how long people keep their bins going. One lady called after returning from a vacation. Her friends watching the bin had not fed the worms while she was gone. Her bin had been active for eight years, and she was starting again. After 6 months, you can easily double your worm population. People generously share their worms with friends.
I have been a worm farmer for 20 years now. I find I am more excited now, than when I first fell in love with these selfless little workers. You don’t even have to remind them to clean their plate. Isn’t the natural world a wonder?
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