One year after this unusual student project went public, Woodcreek's worms are wiggling into schools throughout the Sacramento area.
"I'm surrounded by worm bins right now," said senior Ricky Jones, who helped launch the vermicomposting program at Woodcreek High School in Roseville. "We're concentrating on elementary schools in our area, so kids can learn about worms at an early age."
Jones and other Woodcreek students have made composting a crusade, one worm bin at a time.
"We're still in the early stages of this process," Jones said. "We ordered 20,000 worms and they're gone. Now, we're ordering more. We'll give them all away."
Learning about nature's cycles while helping their own school gardens, younger students have grabbed up the "Timberworms" from the home of the Timberwolves.
"We're making new worm bins and sending them out to schools," Jones said. "We have about 50 schools participating so far."
At Woodcreek, the Timberworms have become a schoolwide project. Besides Jones, the student worm team includes Molly Maupin, Andrew Nadeau, Manmeet Bains and Annie Baker. Woodcreek's student government, Earth Club and Key Club have helped with the worm work, too.
Now the students are taking their worms off campus and making them available to the public at cost. An 18-gallon bin (complete with 500 starter worms and bedding) costs $25. Order online at www.timberworms.com.
That website also boasts a wealth of worm wisdom on how to keep these little compost makers healthy and productive.
Gardeners of all ages are gravitating toward worms. Vermicomposting will be one of the featured topics next Saturday at the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center during a workshop led by Sacramento County's master gardeners. (See details on Page 2.)
On March 23, the master gardeners will focus totally on vermicomposting at a 10:30 a.m. worm workshop at Sacramento's Belle Cooledge Library.
In their pilot project, the Woodcreek students used on-campus worm bins tucked quietly into a science classroom to compost waste from the school cafeteria. The red wigglers digested tons of banana peels, apple cores and wilted lettuce while making high-grade compost.
Vermicomposting reduces the amount of trash in landfills and possible groundwater contamination, but it also helps make happy, healthy soil that's good for plants and people, too, said science teacher Kendra Grinsell. (Other teachers who'd like to learn more about the project can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Her original suggestion prompted the students to become composting experts and worm advocates.
"She told us to study up and become experts on it so we could eventually teach people about it," said Jones, now 18. "I sure learned a lot about composting, but I think the real lesson was the skills I learned working with other people. Putting together ideas, how to get the ball rolling, communication and other skills that I can use for future jobs."
And besides, vermicomposting is fun. Said Jones, "Most of all, I like playing with the worms."
Free seeds for schools
Speaking of school gardens, here's an offer to help those programs grow. Grass Valley's Peaceful Valley Farm and Garden Supply, the organic mail-order giant, is donating thousands of vegetable seed packets to school garden programs; first come, first planted.
Each school "seed box" comes with more than 150 packets of certified organic vegetable and herb seeds including radishes, lettuce and kale. The company donates one packet to schools for every 10 purchased by customers.
Teachers or garden coordinators can apply for a free seed box at GrowOrganic.com/school-garden.
Call The Bee's Debbie Arrington, (916) 321-1075. Follow her on Twitter @debarrington.