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In January I attended an event to witness Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms in the flesh. The entire lecture was awe-inspiring, but one specific comment completely hit home with me. A question from the audience asked about food waste and sustainability. Restaurants and homes waste so much food and create loads of waste, what can we do about this massive problem? Joel’s answer was to attach a chicken coop to every kitchen. Get rid of that parakeet that isn’t contributing and buy a chicken.


I desperately wanted to run out of the room, head to the nearest feed store, probably in Half Moon Bay or Hayward, and buy a chicken. A friend quickly brought me back down from the clouds, I could not possibly keep a chicken in my one bedroom apartment, located on the second floor of the building. The next best thing I could think of was earthworms. 1,000 wriggling, pinkish, undulating, organic matter-eating earthworms.

After a little negotiating, I convinced my current roommate of all the benefits the addition to our household would bring. One pound of earthworms can usually eat their weight in waste, daily! Not to mention, all those kitchen scraps are turned into rich composting soil sometimes referred to as black gold.

So, a week later, on a foggy January morning, we made our way into Alameda to pick up our bucket of worms. We bought them from Bay Worms, a small organization committed to converting waste from local businesses and residences into rich usable compost, alleviating a bit of the load from landfills. We were given a full tour of the center’s composting site, complete with peeks at the various stages of the composting cycle.This was by no means a large-scale

Composting Bins on site

operation, but rather a grass-roots initiative. The composting site shares a lot with a community garden and a small chicken coop. It was a great experience and truly inspiring to witness someone (The Composting Guy) who was truly passionate and enthusiastic about the project. It was such a pleasant encounter that we all just sat around the garden for a good hour discussing everything from how to keep slugs away from your prized plants (sprinkle crushed eggshells at the plant’s base), to the best tomatoes we’ve ever grown.

So now here I am, almost six months later and the worms are thriving in a purple Rubbermaid bin on my balcony, doing their bit to keep my kitchen free of scraps. Every week I’m still amazed at how quickly I can fill a container with all the leftovers from chopped veggies and fruits. One of the more cooler bits of this venture is that they also compost paper and cardboard! Goodbye old Amazon boxes, bills, and receipts!! Maintenance of this project is super low. Once a week I throw in new scraps, turn over the compost inside the bin and add more bedding (shredded paper/cardboard). And that’s my little morsel on sustainability in a box!

my little critters