During the pre-wedding festivities, we played a round of The Newlywed Game, and among the questions was: "What item off your registry is Anna most excited about receiving?" We both answered, with confidence, "A Composter!"
And although our great friends knew us well enough that we actually got TWO whole composters for our wedding, both had stood idly in our basement the last three months, as we first tried to decide which one to use, and then tried to find the time to actually set them up and shift our habits of compostables-collection enough to make it all happen.
But then, a week or so ago, I finally got to hear Will Allen, of Milwaukee's Growing Power fame, come speak in Madison. As his MacArthur genius grant blurb puts it, "Will is an urban farmer who is transforming the cultivation, production, and delivery of healthy foods to underserved, urban populations." The NYTimes has done some great pieces on him in the last year: here and here. His presentation was a thoroughly inspiring one, from his description of the ways that they're growing food in the middle of a Wisconsin winter by heating greenhouses with compost to the aquaponics systems they've set up to grow fish right in the city, from the ways he's recreating their projects all over the country and all over the world to the way his system of farming and gardening has been taken up by the Milwaukee City Hall and by the Milwaukee School District. It was all so exciting. At one point he mentioned that Growing Power has 35 employees working for them. Later, though, when describing the amazing system of vermicomposting they've set up, he said, "Actually, I should take back what I said earlier, we don't have 35 employees, we have 35 million employees: all our worms!"
Here is Will with his worms:
So after listening to a talk like that, how could I go home and ignore our empty worm bin?
A few days later, I biked over to our local bait shop and picked up four containers of red wiggler worms--they're the most voracious eaters, I learned. A few hours and one dinner preparation full of vegetable peelings later, our little worm roommates had found a new, and hopefully happy, home:
Hooray for composting! More stories on this adventure to follow...