People who become really interested in vermicomposting and/or vermiculture will often catch wind of different paid courses and memberships available to help them take things to the next level. Trying to figure out how exactly these resources differ from one another, and who exactly they are designed for can sometimes be challenging.
I decided to create this post to help clarify the difference between 3 such resources: 1) The Worm Farming Alliance (WFA), 2) Compost Guy “Ultimate” (CGU), and 3) Elite Worm Breeding (EWB).
I’m sure some casual readers will benefit from this information – but I’ll admit that a big part of why I created this post was to have a resource I can refer people to when I get emails asking about these differences! 😉
The Worm Farming Alliance (WFA) – This is a high-level online community and networking resource for people wanting to get serious about worm farming (or take their current efforts further). You can think of it as a great way to “rub elbows with”, and get high quality advice from, others in industry – including plenty of serious professionals. I personally founded the WFA nearly a decade ago (as I type this in 2020) with the intention of making it a one-stop “all things worm farming” information/community hub. I’ll spare you the long-winded backstory, with all the ups and downs over the years, but the long and the short of it is that the fantastic community has always been the most important strength/asset. Last fall we (myself, along with managing partners Steve Churchill and Larry Shier) decided to streamline things and make that the primary focus moving forward. It is especially well-suited for those focused on starting or further developing a business venture.
Compost Guy “Ultimate” (CGU) – What started as two bundle packages for my courses (and other info products) has evolved into a single, all-inclusive membership with some big plans in the works. It has more of an educational and “Compost Guy” (me and my projects) focus than the WFA – making it well-suited for those who have followed and enjoyed my work here on the RWC blog, and elsewhere, over the years – but it is still very much a “next level” resource intended for those wanting to get more serious than basic worm bin “hobby” level. I am putting a lot of my time/energy into this project – with lots of new resources, including the Compost Guy mobile app, getting rolled out in the weeks and months ahead. IMPORTANT NOTE: CGU is still available for a one-time payment (early fall 2020), but I will be switching over to a subscription model – so as to make it long-term-sustainable – once more of the member resources are in place (those who join before the switch will be grandfathered in as permanent members).
Elite Worm Breeding (EWB) – This is a course & member community started by my good friend Larry Shier. It is highly focused on the topic of serious (composting) worm breeding, with a lot of emphasis on space-saving set-ups – although, the approach can certainly be scaled up if you have the space/desire to do so. This is a more expensive resource, but it also has a proven track record of success stories, and rock-solid support from Larry himself (I swear “The Rock” would be a great nickname for Larry if it wasn’t already taken! lol). I heartily recommend EWB for anyone wanting to start/further develop a worm farming business that involves selling worms/cocoons. IMPORTANT NOTE: RWC readers can get 20% off and WFA members are entitled to 40% off (just drop me an email to get your coupon code).
In summary, all three resources are intended for those wanting to take their worm farming/composting efforts beyond basic “hobby” level. So, I wouldn’t recommend them for those who only need the most basic “getting started” information, and who aren’t yet sure how far they want to go with worms.
-> They all complement each other very well, but also can work well as stand-alone resources, depending on your specific interests/focus/gameplan.
-> Yes, I benefit financially from WFA and CGU sign-ups – and even EWB if you use my referral link (again, be sure to get in touch for the discount code that applies to you), but I can tell you for sure that this isn’t “about the money”, and when it comes down to it, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who has been in the industry more than a few years for whom money is a primary motivator.
Please refer to my additional info about paid resources below for more of the rationale behind why I decided to head down this path, and how paid resources differ from their “free” counterparts.
If you have ANY questions/concerns, absolutely get in touch! I am more than happy to elaborate on anything shared here.
Before I sign off, I want to touch on a very important point that some people who become interested in taking things to the “next level” don’t seem to quite grasp – the value of actually spending money on specialized community or information resources. Online resources in particular.
We live in an era of information-overload. We have access to a pool of knowledge – literally only a few clicks away – vastly greater than has ever been the case in the history of mankind. So, to say we take information for granted at times might be a bit of an understatement.
So…in a sense I “get it”. There IS plenty of vermicomposting/vermiculture information freely available online, and there are even huge communities on Facebook, completely “free” to join, where you can ask questions and get to know others on a similar path.
I guess if there was one word to explain the rationale behind investing in paid resources, it would be “quality”. Quality of information and quality of community.
Whether you invest your time or invest money (or both) – the absolute certainty is that some form of investment will be required (we don’t have plugs to download information into our brains…just yet! lol). So, it really just comes down to deciding how much you value your time.
In the public groups and in the search engines there is a LOT of “noise” these days. It can take a lot of time/effort, and trial/error to track down truly “good quality” information – especially when it is so easy for just about anyone to play “expert”. Eg. While I like to think the RWC Facebook group is pretty solid as far as public Facebook groups go, I’m amazed by how much bad information is shared there.
With a good quality paid resource you are able to directly tap the knowledge-base of those who have put in more time than yourself, so it is a much shorter path to the high quality information and – in some cases – relationships that can help you succeed.
Back when I first started vermicomposting (more than 20 years ago), like a lot of “newbies” I first gravitated towards the free resources. Websites, public forums etc. Back then the online “noise” level was a tiny fraction of what it is today – and some of the resources (eg the now-defunct Worm Digest forum) were actually very good. I relied on them quite a bit to help me head in the right direction early on.
Once I REALLY caught the “worm bug”, though, I made a decision that changed my life (I have the luxury of hindsight 2020 – literally lol). I invested – quite a lot of money I might add – in books and subscriptions relating to worm composting and worm farming. I was lucky enough to get started towards the tail end of a time period I like to refer to as the “Golden Age” of vermicomposting – a time when a lot of major industry and academic founding members and players were active.
There were plenty of people active/involved back then in general but, in my humble opinion, so much of the advancement in the worm world can be linked directly to a small number of key connectors/educators/influencers – people like Rhonda Sherman, Mary Appelhof, Peter Bogdanov, and the team at Worm Digest – who helped the field move (mostly) past the shady, pyramid-scheme-riddled reputation of years past with their high quality paid publications and events.
Not only was the information so important for my own journey, but I made it a primary goal to do my part to “carry the torch” in a sense – putting a lot of my own focus on helping others with proper education and connection (and not just via paid products, of course).
One final thought…
There are a couple of interesting things that happen when you ask people to pay for something. Those who are already pretty serious and committed tend to to be the ones who invest – and they then become even more serious and committed.
Those who are offended by the idea of actually paying for information end up filtering themselves out. They don’t make the cut.
So in a sense it is win/win.
Please don’t read this the wrong way. I’ve been sharing good information publicly for many, many years now – and I hope to do so for many more. There are plenty of people – including some fantastic long-term RWC followers – who want to keep going with worm composting/farming, but enjoy taking their time. They don’t ever (or very rarely) invest in paid products – and thats great!
It has been the positive feedback from these folks that has actually been my “rocket fuel” over the years – the primary reason I’ve continued to push ahead on this (often rocky) path of endeavor.
Related Sidenote: The CG App will also have a public portal for exactly these types of enthusiastic followers. Stay tuned!
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