Summer Camp Vermicomposting

Silver Lake Mennonite Camp

A little while ago I was contacted by Leanne Baer, who runs (with her husband) the Silver Lake summer camp for kids, located near Sauble Beach Ontario (about an hour and a half northwest of me). She was looking for composting worms (and LOTS of them), and hoping to pick my brain about setting up a large scale flow-through worm composting bed – with the intention of vermicomposting the camp’s compostable food waste. Needless to say, I was pretty keen to learn more about the project and to lend a hand in any way I could!

As it turns out, rather than selling Leanne worms (a fairly large expense for a project with a limited budget), I suggested we try out a “worm loan” instead. One of her concerns had been what to do with the worms at the end of the season, so I figured it would make more sense for me to simply provide her with as many worms as she needed, then to transport them back home at the end of the summer. Leanne seemed quite concerned about the possibility of me losing my vermi-investment (haha), but I assured her that it wasn’t exactly going to keep me up at night.

The inspiration for the Silver Lake vermicomposting bed was provided by Larry Duke, a prominent member of the vermicomposters forum, and someone I was introduced to by Mark from Kansas (thanks again, Mark!). Here is a cool video tour of the system that Larry put together:

Find more videos like this on

Here is a direct link to the video as well:

I am anxiously awaiting photos of the finished Silver Lake system, but I did get (from Leanne) some shots taken during construction, and it certainly looks as though they are headed in the right direction.

Leanne came by to pick up her first batch of worms this week and we had a good opportunity to chat all about her plans. The kids don’t arrive until July, so June represents an important time for getting the Red Worm population established in the bed. I’m still not 100% sure what sort of food waste output the camp will be producing, but the impression I got was that it could 20-30lb or more per day. To provide an extra boost of vermicomposting power, I was thinking of providing Leanne with some Worm Inn systems as well.

Apart from playing the role of “worm loan and general advice guy” (an honorable title in itself – haha), I actually have plans to visit the camp at least two or three times during the summer to see how things are coming along (and to add more worms to the system). Of course, I will be taking lots of pictures and writing much more about this project here as well! I know many readers will be interested to learn more, and this will almost certainly serve as an important model for other camps and organizations wishing to start similar initiatives.

Stay tuned! Much more info to come.

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  1. This sounds like a great project! Thanks to Larry for the video!

    • LARRY D.
    • June 4, 2010

    It is built to also use metal conduit if desired.The crossbrace board supports the pipe for heavy loads.I am testing all the different spacings,but it seems for weedeater string it is 1″and for conduit it is on 2″centers.Hopefully They will make improvements as they build theirs.Thanks Mr.Bentley and Mark!

    • Jean Kruse
    • July 19, 2010

    Really wanted to watch Larry’s video but when hit the link the ning page said ” sorry not found”. Any suggestions?

    • Bentley
    • July 19, 2010

    Hi Jean – thanks for letting me know. Guess the URL changed for some reason. I have tracked it down and included the actual video in the post, along with a direct link as well.

    • LARRY D.
    • July 19, 2010

    Hey Jean,try this one.Not sure what’s wrong!

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