Jailhouse Wigglers

Red Wigglers

Not too long ago I wrote a post on the EcoSherpa blog about vermicomposting at a Washington State prison (see “Red Wigglers Go To Prison”*). Well, I recently happened upon another article about a prison worm composting operation and I thought it would make for an interesting post here on the new site.

Wayne Brown Correctional Facility, located in Nevada County, California, has collaborated with Nevada County Recycles to produce a thriving demonstration “compost garden”.

From the article:

The garden features worm composting, or vermicomposting, which turns 45,000 pounds of food scraps from the jail’s kitchen each year into rich soil that fertilizes an organic vegetable garden used to feed inmates.

The garden also showcases a year-round Circle of Life garden created by horticulturist Kathy Irving and hosts community composting workshops several times a year.

On a warm, sunny Tuesday morning, Larry Henslee tended the worm bins – seven rows of wooden raised beds filled with soil and red worms. Each day, Henslee, an inmate at the jail, feeds the worms 124 pounds of vegetable-based food waste from the jail’s kitchen. Each day, the worms devour the food; their waste, called castings, is a gardener’s gold.

Henslee has served 200 days at the jail. He is the envy of his cell mates because he has the privilege of working outdoors in the earth and sunshine each day.

“It’s nice to be able to give back. For me, I’ve been so self-absorbed for so long,” Henslee said.

Apparently, the composting operation saves the prison $1600 in disposal fees, in addition to all the other great benefits associated with the project!

I love hearing about these sorts of initiatives! I think it’s not only great for the environment but it is a great ‘hands-on’ project for the inmates – something that could potentially have a lasting positive impact on them once they are released.

Be sure to check out the full article: County jail hits paydirt*

*UPDATE 2018: Links were no longer working so they were removed.

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