Many urban farmers are able to achieve a positive ROI thanks to heavy local demand for organic vegetables. As local consumers become more sophisticated and educate themselves on their total carbon footprint, there’s an increasing clamor for locally grown, totally organic, totally ‘green’ local produce.
Sadly, this is one opportunity that can’t easily be solved by just loading up on organic composted manure. Much of that type of input has to be trucked in – often from several hundred miles away.
Talk about mixed messaging: you’re doing your part to help the environment by cutting down on industrial chemical fertilizers and pesticides, but you’re also encouraging the release of tons of fossil fuel-based carbon into the air.
Thankfully, you can get out from under this dilemma by recruiting the help of earthworms. That’s right, worm castings can help you fertilize your produce efficiently and effectively while cutting down on fossil fuel use.
Keep the following facts in mind to help you decide whether to produce vermicompost for your organic urban farming input needs.
1. Most urban areas have large scale sources of worm feed stock
From restaurant kitchen wastes to your own urban farm’s ‘green manure,’ you don’t have to look far for worm food. If you want to compost worm droppings to produce compost, you need to get access to a lot of worm food.
Thankfully, most urban farmers can work out a deal with busy local eateries (who use organic meat and produce) to collect and haul away their food waste.
You only need to pick up the phone and find a high-volume restaurant or cafe in your area and tell them about the win/win situation you have in mind.
Many restaurateurs would like to help you out since they would be doing their share of helping the environment by cooperating with you. They get rid of their waste and save money and time while feeling good about being so eco-friendly.
2. Worm compost doesn’t burn roots
Whether you are producing vermicompost for your own urban farm operations or for sale to organic farmers, keep in mind that the product you’ll be producing doesn’t require long periods of aging to be useful.
Since worm poop doesn’t burn roots – unlike chicken manure – you can quickly apply this type of compost to your plants either as a soil topping or mixed into the soil itself as an amendment.
3. Vermicompost doesn’t stink
One obvious drawback of organic farming is its reliance on composted manure-typically cow manure. Sadly, even cow manure that’s been ‘aged’ for quite some time can still have a strong odor. This can be a serious problem if your urban farm has neighbors with very sensitive noses.
You can avoid the drama of hostile neighbors and possible visits from the city inspector’s office by switching your fertilizer input from regular organic cow manure to worm manure.
4. You can produce worm castings completely odor-free and silently
Depending on how well you mix your worm casting feed stock, you can produce it completely free of odor. Also, your neighbors won’t notice anything because they can’t hear your worms turning all that restaurant rubbish into useful organic fertilizer.
Keep the facts above in mind so you can make an informed decision about switching over to vermicomposting for all your fertilizer input needs.