Earlier this year, thanks to a Student Sustainability Grant, Green’ 14 was able to start a vermiculture pilot project in Thayer Hall, one of the freshman dorms in the Yard.
Vermiculture bins use the natural composting abilities of earthworms to create a pH neutral environment that is great for composting. These worms are able to munch their way through their weight in food every two weeks! And the best part about vermiculture? Because the worms do the nitty gritty work, these bins are easily maintained, odorless, and suitable to be kept indoors. We were very excited to get the vermiculture bin approved and set-up in Thayer.
For the worm bin’s debut in Thayer’s kitchen, Gary Gerbrandt ‘14, Annie Baldwin’13 and I introduced the bins to each floor of Thayer through study breaks. We bought a few boxes of strawberries, a few bunches of grapes, bananas, celery, in-shell peanuts, bread, peanut butter, and nutella to make peanut butter and banana sandwiches, ants on a log, and nutella dipped anything to give each floor of Thayer a tasty, healthy snack.
The aim was to have a study break in which the foods they ate would be able to be composted. We kept an empty strawberry container full of the celery leaves, strawberry leaves, peanut shells, grape branches, and bread crumbs to show each floor that all of this “trash” could be fed to our worms in the green bin, situated conveniently next to the kitchen trash can. We opened up the bin and dug out a few worms for those who wanted to see the slimy composters and showed them how the bin needed cardboard to keep the environment suitable for the worms. We gave an informal spiel about what the worms like and dislike eating and how the bin work. The study breaks were a huge success; the students were very receptive, the proctors loved the idea, and we got a lot of questions about what can and cannot go into the bins.
Every few days, we check up on the bins; since I live in Thayer, I open up the bin every time I go down to the basement to make sure nothing has been put in that won’t compost, and I usually add some more shredded cardboard. I think the results have been great; I’ve been seeing a lot of banana peels, apple cores, and occasionally some cabbage from those cooking in Thayer kitchen, and the worms are doing and excellent job with the composting!