Thursday, April 25, 2013


I grew up with recycling my whole life. At first it was just the blue box, but we always had a composter in our back yard. Then our town brought in the green bin program, which I am in love with. The municipality picks up your food waste each week, and once or twice a year, they dump a big load of the garden gold it produces behind town hall on a farmer's market day, and people come with assorted bins and pails and barrows to take home their share.

Up here, there is no green bin. There is no blue bin even.

An outdoor composter isn't really an option for us right now as apartment dwellers, and in Moosonee it's impractical anyways. Most of the year the waste would freeze rather than break down, and when it's not frozen it would attract nuisance animals. No thank you. So I looked into indoor composting solutions. Vermicomposting is one of the cleanest, quietest and most self perpetuating ways I know of to compost indoors. No need to keep purchasing enzymes or cultures that will eat the food and keep smells at bay, no machine that turns the compost regularly, just a colony of happy worms munching away on your garbage. As an added bonus, up to 2/3 of what goes into the worm bin should be "brown matter", which is high in carbon, alongside your "green matter" which is your food scraps and coffee grinds. Shredded paper makes fabulous brown matter, and acts as a bedding for your worms. So not only am I diverting a lot of my kitchen waste, I would also be taking home a significant portion of the waste paper from the public school, and turning it into plant food. Sounds great, all systems go, right?

The trouble was the worms. Most people breeding Red Wrigglers for the compost trade are small backyard businesses, not set up for the logistics of shipping much beyond their immediate communities. And those that are wouldn't ship to Moosonee (especially in February when I was asking) for fear that the worms would freeze in transit. Besides, paying $40 for a half pound of worms seems a bit excessive to me. I put the project on the back burner.

Last week however, I noticed a compost bin while supply teaching in the Junior Kindergarden class. The next time I was in the school I was asking the teacher about it, and she said that yes, there were worms in the bin, and in fact, they were thriving, and some would need to be separated out soon, because there was just more worms than needed to handle the scraps that class was producing. Would I like some?

So, thrilled at my discovery, I finished the fishy crackers I'd brought for snack, and scooped up their container of worms, raided the paper shredder and made off gleefully clutching my new treasures.

The bin pictured above is my new worm colony, and it lives in my laundry room. I'm so happy to have found some worms!!

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