The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

School worm bin project, part 1

Shredded paperSchool's back in session, and I've started the ball rolling on our worm bin project.  I sent a letter to the principal of our closest school and then gave her a followup phone call yesterday.  She seems cautiously optimistic, and we've got a plan to meet with her and the cafeteria workers on Monday to work the kinks out of the plan.  I'm over the moon --- I've been aching to find a source of food scraps for years!

In case any of you would like to follow suit in your own neck of the woods, here's the meat of the letter I sent to the principal (with various identifying features removed.)  Feel free to edit it and use it with your own local school. 

In the late 1990s, a school teacher in California began feeding the cafeteria's food waste to worms. The worms turned the scraps into high quality compost, students learned hands-on science, and 3,600 pounds of food waste were sidetracked from their path to the landfill. Best of all, the 400 student school saved $6,000 in dumpster fees.

Although Binet Payne documented every step of her adventure in Worm Cafe, over a decade later most cafeteria food waste still ends up in the landfill. Why hasn't her system spread across the nation? Payne's program relies on at least one passionate teacher to lead the way in turning garbage into black gold, a tough call when most teachers are already up to their eyeballs in other projects.

Clinch River Educational Center would like to use ***** School as a pilot project as we work the kinks out of a community worm bin program. Our plan is to team schools up with passionate gardeners in their community who are willing to take over the day to day chores of a worm bin in exchange for the high quality compost that will be produced. We would like to start out by simply putting food waste containers in your school's cafeteria, providing one container for each day so that they can be sealed after lunch and placed in an out of the way location for pickup on Fridays. We would provide the containers, signs, and the person to pick up the scraps. Your teachers would just need to spend a couple of minutes explaining the project to their students, then your cafeteria workers would need to be aware of the system so that they could point kids in the right direction.

I will give you a phone call next week to discuss the project with you, but feel free to contact me before then if you want to get the ball rolling sooner. If you have any questions, my personal contact information is ***** and *****. You can read more about the Clinch River Educational Center on our website at

Thank you for your time considering this project.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Can't wait to hear how it all turns out!
Comment by Everett Fri Jan 14 11:18:24 2011
I'll be sure to post more than anyone would ever want to know about it. :-)
Comment by anna Fri Jan 14 11:57:54 2011
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