Friends of UMass Permaculture helped put on a Composting Workshop the evening of April 10th in the Earthfoods Café. To say the least, it was not for the squeamish. The hands-on lesson sponsored by Friends of UMass Permaculture, UMass Student Farm, UMass For Real Food, and Sustainable UMass Action Coalition was open to students and community members focused on the benefits of vermicomposting. This method of composting centralizes around worms, more specifically red wigglers.
Participants received their very own makeshift compost bins comprised of a bucket, newspaper, dirt, water, and the earth creatures. After poking breathing holes in the bucket, the creation was then theirs as a take-home project.
President of Friends of UMass Permaculture Emily Round emphasized the easiness that vermicomposting offers. “A lot of students live in dorms and would have to bring their compost to the dining commons”, said Round. “This is a way to bring composting to students without having to go out.” This was proved in the multiple uses of the apples given out to attendees. Not only did they serve as food, but the cores that are usually disposed of are prime examples of food residue that can serve as food for worms.
The castings released then become nutrients for plants once procured. The opening presentation wowed attendees with startling figures, highlighting the 34 million tons of food that Americans waste each year. This potential compost is then either turned into carbon dioxide in an incinerator or methane at a landfill. Both gases are extremely damaging to our atmosphere, with methane reaching pollutant levels twenty times greater than CO2. Though composting is not very common in the U.S. yet, its versatility as described during this presentation showed its relative versatility and easiness.
Round also stressed vermicomposting’s impact beyond just a science process. “This a way for students who don’t have a lot of money to have power and become involved”, she said. “It’s a really good way to empower students.” The small start-up costs to compost are paid back in greater dividends from the benefit of creating future ways to grow food.
Composting has made its way into our dining halls and with more workshops like this it will certainly begin infiltrating other parts of the UMass campus. “I would really like to see communities build around this”, said Round. “The resources can be turned into something better and communities can share these resources.”
Who Knows? Maybe one day there will be as many worms as students in our dorms.