A few words on Growing Power and Community Gardens
- Subject: [cg] A few words on Growing Power and Community Gardens
- From: JSBMH2@aol.com
- Date: Mon, 28 Feb 2005 07:49:27 EST
This is from Steve Diver with ATTRA.
It is now common to put organic wastes through the
thermophilic composting phase.... the hot phase, but not
finished compost... to arrive at a pre-digested organic matter
as worm bedding.
This is what we hear from on-farm worm composters
in many parts of the country.
Worms naturally have their own pathogen suppressing mechanisms,
but pre-treatment ensures the material has gone through
heat treatment for reduction of human pathogenic organisms and
pre-digested organic matter makes good worm bedding.
The Upper Midwest Organic Farming Conference was held
in La Crosse, Wisconsin, these last few days.
Will Allen with Growing Power in Milwaukee, WI,
gave a workshop that described their projects with
vermicomposting, aquaponics, and community gardening.
Growing Power made 500 tons of vermicompost in
2004. They are receiving 8,000 lbs of brewery waste
each week. They mix this with proportional volumes of
old hay and food scraps from restaurants and grocery stores.
It is built into windrows and turned with an over-the-row,
walk-along compost turner. It goes through a heating phase,
and the partially composted material is then laid out
in windrows and inoculated with worms.
They also do vermicomposting in worm boxes made
from scrap lumber. Lots and lots of worm boxes. He
uses the pre-digested partially composted organic matter
in the worm boxes, as well.
Will found an easy way to separate the worms. When
it's time to harvest the worms, after 8 weeks in boxes, he
lays a 1/16th screen on top of the worm box, and then puts a
few inches of fresh bedding on top of the screen. The
worms crawl out of the bottom box, through the
screen, and into the fresh layer on top of the screen.
The contents of the box is then screened, and the
sifted material is ready-to-use vermicast.
Worms are integrated with aquaponics. Vegetables
are grown in containers, and tilapia fish are grown in
tanks and troughs. The container media consists of
75% coir and 25% vermicasts. Fish effluent is used
as fertigation water. The tilapia are fed fresh, live
worms and duckweed (grown in greenhouse tanks).
Growing Power also raise large volumes of fresh, sprouted
vegetable greens as a commercial crop. The coir and
vermicast blend is laid in a shallow layer in trays.
Growing Power has helped establish dozens of
urban community gardens. In some places, such
as Cabrini Greens in Chicago, the raised bed are
built directly on top of asphalt pavement.
In some instances a foot layer of wood chips
such as shredded municipal yard waste is laid
down. In other instances, no base layer is used.
The raised bed is first established by laying down
a couple feet of the pre-digested organic matter.
Then it is loaded with vermicasts. Then is it topped
off with top soil. It is planted right away. They beds
are about 3-4 feet wide and 2.5 to 3 feet high.
The same method is used on urban lawns around
housing projects. Will said that you never "dig down"
in urban settings, you always "build up." These urban
locations are often brown field sites, built on top
of construction debris.
My workshop at UMOFC was on compost teas, humus
farming and soil biology, and related on-farm systems.
Vermicompost is being used as a compost tea substrate at
100%, a 50:50 blend of vermicompost + compost,
and a 75:25 blend of vermicompost + compost, thus gaining
the benefits from two different soil ecological milieus.
A growing number of farms, greenhouses, and compost
tea applicators are maintaining vermicompost systems
as a key ingredient for soil fertility and pest suppression.
Here is a new on-farm vermicomposting manual
from the Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada,
a 56-page PDF.
Manual of On-Farm Vermicomposting and Vermiculture
By Glenn Munroe, Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada
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