Students in Mr. Heidenberger’s 8th grade science class are undertaking a long-term vermicomposting project this year. On Friday, August 30th, students harvested compost from an initial worm bin started by Mr. H over the summer. From this original bin, students set up three new bins filled with shredded newsprint for bedding, handfuls of vermicompost from the old bin to re-introduce the pre-established microbes and other beneficial organisms, fresh-ground rock dust to aid the worms’ gizzards in breaking down their food, and about five hundred red wiggler worms per bin.
The short-term goal is to create three healthy worm bins that should each be able to process about two and one-half pounds of organic waste from our cafeteria, used coffee grounds, and shredded office paper every week through the first quarter of school. Students will harvest the vermicompost again at the start of the second quarter and establish two additional worm bins. At that point, students hope to be able to feed each of the five bins (one for each weekday) anywhere from seven to ten pounds of organic waste per week, for a weekly total of up to fifty pounds of processed waste! Students will present their results to date on Earth Day 2014 with the harvested vermicompost being used for on-campus gardening and beautification projects. Students will simultaneously conduct an organic waste audit throughout the year to determine how much waste is sent to landfills compared to how much is recycled through our new vermicomposting program. The long-term goal of this project is to have it remain a fixed and ever-growing component of our school’s sustainability efforts.