When it comes to growing, selling, and buying produce, many people have differing definitions of the word ‘organic.’ To an organic farmer, the word ‘organic’ summarizes an entire food system, with hundreds of living, moving parts, all of which need to be 100% natural in function and result. This means an organic farmer cannot use conventional fertilizers, which are contrived chemicals and compounds high in nutrients in an immediately soluble form. Although these synthetic fertilizers promote rampant growth in plants, they completely negate the natural decomposition component in the soil of a living food system; the component that is naturally responsible for converting organic matter into useable nutrients for the plant to ingest. So how does an organic farmer compete with the extreme growth of conventional synthetically fed plants? Worms and manure of course! At Fresh City, we have recently installed two new vermicomposting systems, the by-products of which, will be highly nutritious organic fertilizer, vermicastings. Vermicomposting or vermiculture is the process of composting organic matter using various species of worms. In our greenhouse we use the ‘Red Wiggler’ species. Other vermicomposting facilities will use different worms, all suitable to different environments, or systems. So what do we feed the worms to create worm castings? We feed them waste, or what we have come to learn is waste, but is actually a precious resource. Worms have the ability to speed up the decomposition of yard waste, kitchen scraps, and animal waste. At Fresh City we feed our worms horse manure that would otherwise be trucked away from it’s source and disposed of at a processing plant, creating various forms of pollution all along the way. So these little worm systems are diverting a substantial pollution stream by converting perceived ‘waste’ into highly nutritious organic fertilizer, which is more valuable than any conventional synthetic fertilizers. It is more valuable because it works in harmony with all the living systems occurring in the plants soil, instead of working against them. Vermi-culture also can eliminate another substantial pollution stream, by replacing synthetic fertilizers, and therefore eliminating the pollution and energy use that is created at fertilizer processing plants. Through the use of vermin-culture and other organic farming techniques, we can farm in harmony with the earth’s natural systems, in which waste is dealt with in a seemingly passive yet highly efficient manner. Stay healthy, Phillip Collins, Co-Founder, Fresh City Farms