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Worm Farms Digging in as Part of Sustainability Efforts

August 27, 2014 -- As part of CNM’s sustainability efforts, each campus is receiving a worm farm to turn paper, vegetable and fruit waste into mulch that can be used as a nutrient-rich fertilizer.
Worm Farms Digging in as Part of Sustainability Efforts

Jul 17, 2015

The worm farm concept at CNM was the idea of biology faculty member Shawn Wright.

“I raise worms at home,” Wright said. “Nothing goes in the trash at my place if it can go to the worms or a compost bin.”

He said he moved to a run-down farm 25 years ago, where he learned to appreciate the power of worms. “Once terrible soil is now healthy,” he said.

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He started a worm farm in his office at CNM and got several of his students interested in having farms of their own. Wright proposed the idea of a worm farm at all CNM campuses as a sustainability effort, and Luis Campos, executive director of the CNM Physical Plant, wanted to try it. He purchased a worm farm for each campus.

The worm bins, 18-by-18 inch plastic containers, are stacked on top of each other with small holes on the bottom. Placed on the bottom container is a bedding material made of paper along with food the worms can eat, including coffee grounds, egg shells and vegetable/fruit material (anything but meat and protein). He starts with 500 Red Wiggler worms, which in about two months grow to 2,000. As the worm numbers expand and the mulch increases, a second container with fresh food waste is put on top of the first container, and the worms migrate to it. Eventually all five containers are filled, and the first container, with fresh bedding/food material, is moved to the top.

The resulting material produced by the worms looks and smells like fresh soil, and it serves as an excellent nutrient-rich fertilizer.

Wright is maintaining a worm farm in the Main Campus Biology Department, and people from other campuses will be receiving the worm-farm containers plus 500 start-up Red Wiggler worms. The individuals who will be maintaining the farms at the other campuses are Karen Bentz and Patricia Mayers at the Montoya Campus; Marleen Anzures at the South Valley Campus; Alea Tranfton at the Rio Rancho Campus; and Corie Andries at the Westside Campus.

“The worm farms at every campus are another way to bring recycling into our everyday lives,” Wright said.

Larger composting facilities will soon be installed for CNM’s Culinary Arts program.