Back towards the beginning, before Cycle Farm, when we grew garlic and kale in raised beds behind a coyote fence in the driveway of an ittybitty apartment next to neighbors with the world’s most gorgeous marigolds in the French District of Santa Fe, we had a tub of red wigglers under the kitchen sink. Ever since then, these creatures have dazzled us with their quiet, deliberate, tireless work ethic. Gentle. Powerful. They were our meager introduction to low-stress livestock management and have been unfaltering teachers and inspiration.
Now these legless livestock, the great, great, super great granddaughters of our original herd, spend summers in the worm castle outside – a glorious, needlessly fancy vertical bin with mesh and a sifter crank on the bottom to drop out finished worm castings. They busy themselves slowly, steadily working through kitchen scraps, egg shells and coffee grounds, gleanings and trimmings from the greenhouse and pack shed. When the temperatures drop, they are hauled into their winter bungalows – more modest arrangements – totes on the floor of the basement.
We use the worm castings and casting tea in our potting mix for starts in the spring, to help supplement soil in greenhouse beds, and in brewing batches of compost tea for our fields.
Yesterday the SCOBY sprites from Scobi Kombucha, a new local kombucha company, dropped off a bag full of tea leaves from their most recent kombucha brew for our worms. We’ve enjoyed getting to know the SCOBI team, they are committed to partnering with local businesses, stoked about incorporating local ingredients, and we’ve supplied them with herbs for some of their special flavored kombucha brews. The worms will feast heartily (five hearts!) on these spent tea leaves, making beautiful black castings that we will return to the earth.
As we poke into the tubs in the basement, watching as the worms burrow down away from the surface, from the light, we are struck with appreciation for this leaf-exchange, mint leaves for tea leaves, black tea for worm tea, nutrient cycling, a beautiful loop, feeding both a healthy soil microbiome and healthy gut microbiomes.
Thank you, Scobi. Thank you, worms!
(the anatomy diagram photo above was snapped during a very special farm tour a few years ago)