A Whole New Can of Worms

By: Erin Tate
By: Erin Tate

"Not everyone wants to take care of worms," said Augusta County dairyman David Showalter. However, he doesn't seem to mind.

He said he is the first Virginia farmer to explore the unearthed industry of earthworm composting.

His wife, Ferne Showalter, said, "It just seemed kind of exciting to all of us."

The Showalters are Mennonites who live near Bridgewater and they say their new worm farm is an appropriate industry for them.

"This is an opportunity for the family to work together and do something we feel good about," said David.

A heap of pre-composted livestock litter may be trash to some, but to the Showalters and their worms, it's a treasure.

The worms eat through the manure and produce something called castings, which is then harvested and sold at retail price for gardeners. Showalter said it helps him be a good steward of the earth and helps others double their plant production and increase the taste of their fruits and vegetables.

He has applied for trademark registration on his product, Fert-Cast. All this in just eight months.

"There's 1000 worms per pound. I started with 3000 worms [in January.] You can do your own math," he said smiling.

Now, Showalter has 12,000 pounds of worms. He's optimistic, hoping to replace his unprofitable dairy business with the squirmy creatures.

He said it's something you can do at home, too. Kitchen scraps and some warm, moist worms and you've got yourself some top-notch fertilizer to keep your garden green.

For more information on worm composting, check out www.ferticast.com.

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