As much as I love learning about worm businesses from all over the world, I really must admit to taking a keen interest in those a little closer to home. I would love to see vermicomposting become much more maintream here in Ontario, and in Canada in general. Cathy Nesbitt is certainly doing her part to help make this happen.
I remember being inspired when I first read about Cathy and her tiny (at the time) home-based worm business, and I’m certainly pleased to hear that the business is still going strong. I was really excited when she agreed to take part in this interview!
Can you tell us a little about your background? How and When did Cathy’s Crawly Composters get started – what inspired you to get into vermicomposting?
CN – Established in 2002, Cathy’s Crawly Composters is an environmentally driven vermiculture business. Vermicomposting is simply composting with specialty worms known as Red Wigglers. We educate about environmental choices.
I have been a life-long conservationist and caretaker of the earth. When we moved to Bradford in 1993, I could not wait to start gardening and composting. I worked as a secretary in Toronto. I would take an ice cream pail on the GO Train to collect my colleagues lunchroom scraps. I would add the scraps to my backyard composter. When you compost, the more you put in, the more you get out, the better your garden grows. Several years ago, I took care of a teacher’s worm bin for a summer. At the time I could not touch worms as I found them icky. I have since researched vermicomposting extensively and have come to admire worms. They have a tremendous task on earth – to convert our organic matter into castings or vermicompost for use in our gardens. I believe my mission is to be a worm advocate and let people know about these amazing selfless creatures.
Is CCC a full-time endeavour for you? If so, do you have any employees?
CN – Cathy’s Crawly Composters is a full-time business supporting 2 full-time and 1 part time employee and of course, the worms who work for scraps.
How big is your worm herd and what do they get fed?
CN – Our squirm of worms is currently growing in a barn and throughout our home. It is difficult to know how many worms we have as they rarely show up for roll call.
They are fed food scraps and paper. We have a donation bin at the end of our driveway to collect scraps from community members who do not compost themselves, but want to do the right thing.
What would a typically day involve for you? (picking up wastes? feeding worms? shipping orders? presentations?)
CN – There is no typical day in the worm world. The worms are feed and watered several times per week. We do many workshops for schools and community groups as well as worm birthday parties. In addition, we do compost consulting for corporations to manage food scraps and paper on site. We often visit farms to discuss manure management options.
What would you say is the most exciting part of your work?
CN – Raising awareness is the most fun part. I love meeting people who have never heard of worm composting. Their reactions are often priceless. Educating children about the benefits of worms is one of my favourite things. Children really get the concept and enjoy taking care of the worms in the classroom or at home.
Since starting your business have you seen a steady increase in interest, or peaks and valleys? Does the future look bright for vermicomposting?
CN – Worms are going to play an ever-increasing role in waste management and soil production. Red wiggler worms convert organic matter (eg. food scraps, paper, manure, sewage sludge, etc.) into nature’s finest fertilizer. The solution to our garbage crisis is several solutions … vermicomposting is simply one piece to the complex garbage puzzle. Worms offer a sustainable solution to one of today’s biggest problems – garbage!
What sort of advice might you offer to someone thinking about getting into the worm composting/farming business?
CN – Learn as much as possible about worms and their requirements. If you have not done worm composting before, start small. Get familiar with the worms needs. They are living creatures so things can go wrong. The internet is a wonderful resource for researching. I would encourage people to learn what others have done. No need to reinvent the wheel, as the expression goes …
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
CN – There is a Green Reel Film Festival taking place on January 4 & 5, 2008 at the City Playhouse in Vaughan [Ontario]. There will several environmental exhibitors including the worms, of course.
To learn more about Cathy and her squirm of worms, be sure to check out Cathy’s Crawly Composters!