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Boone has 'Room to Sqworm'

Article Published: Mar. 4, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
Boone has 'Room to Sqworm'

Some of the planet's lowliest creatures are the key that allow the roving beasts to live.

Worms are garbage eaters, and they keep the soil that produces every plant and feeds every animal infused with nitrogen and micro-organisms. If soil lacks nutrients and micro-organisms, plants are unable to grow.

Room to Sqworm, started by area resident Tracy Myhalyk, has just partnered with Charles Church and his farming work to bring more worms to the mountains. Myhalyk started her "worm bin" business in 2002, when she returned to Boone after living for a time out west.

"The day I stepped back into Boone, people started asking me for worms," Myhalyk said. "If you add worm castings (manure) to your garden, you can increase your plant growth 10 to 25 percent. Sometimes it doubles."

The reason that castings from worms are so effective is because of their low levels of nitrogen. The tunnels bored through soil by worms create soil retention also. Red worms generally live in the top 3 to 4 inches of soil and consume fallen plant growth. As they consume fallen plant materials, they create castings, which hold topsoil close to root structures. The result is a healthier garden that breathes.

Myhalyk and business partner Andrew Schaffer have started working with Charles Church because he keeps hogs.

"One of the best foods you can feed worms is hog manure," Myhalyk said. "Charles Church raises organic hogs on his farm. Vermicompost made from hog manure is the best compost you can make."

When worms do their work well, they cause rain water to be retained, and their castings contain all the micro-organisms needed for plant growth.

Myhalyk said that her "worm bins," namely worms in a plastic bin, can compost 3 to 4 pounds of leftover food scraps a week. This does not include meats with bones and acidic foods, but fruits and vegetables are easily turned into nutrient rich topsoil in weeks.

The bins which she has been selling at farmers' markets in the area do not create odor if they are fed the appropriate food scraps.

"When people use worm bins, they create hardly any trash to be thrown in landfills," Myhalyk said.

"In every system on this planet, there are key players that keep the processes going in any specific ecosystem type. The absence of any important critter could cause a detrimental melt-down effect on our planet."

The bins Schaffer and Myhalyk use can be kept in pantries, where trash bins are kept, and do not require any light. A bin that easily fits in a pantry can process up to 4 pounds of food scraps a week. In the summer and spring, the compost created by the "worm bins" invigorates the soil.

Myhalyk wants to help residents of the area to keep their food scraps from ending up in the landfills, where gasses like methane store up. She hopes that prudent use of land can help make a more productive community and a healthier environment.

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