Thursday, Feb. 3


Symposium planned to explore benefits of composting with worms     Send a link to a friend

[FEB. 3, 2005]  SPRINGFIELD -- Vermicomposting, a method of recycling food and yard waste by using red worms, will be the subject of a daylong symposium on Monday (Feb. 7).

The second annual symposium is being sponsored by the Illinois Department of Agriculture, the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, the Springfield Division of Waste Reduction and Recycling, and the Illinois Stewardship Alliance. Sessions will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the conference room at the Northfield Inn and Suites in Springfield.

"We're encouraging the expanded use of vermicomposting because of its environmental benefits," Illinois Agriculture Director Chuck Hartke said. "Vermicomposting not only reduces waste destined for our landfills, but also produces a byproduct that makes a terrific fertilizer. Best of all, it's a completely natural process."

Thirty percent of the refuse in the United States is food and yard debris. Red worms can break down this organic waste and convert it into nutrient-rich castings. These castings have been called "black gold" because of their high nutrient content and can revitalize low-fertility soils.

The agenda for the symposium includes an address from vermicomposting expert Mary Appelhof, author of "Worms Eat My Garbage." She will discuss the application of vermicompost on flower gardens, food plants, vineyards, golf courses, orchards and nurseries.

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Additional presentations will cover the use of castings in bioremediation, Schaumburg-based IKEA's vermicomposting of its store restaurant's food waste, and uniformity of physical and chemical properties of castings.

Symposium attendees also will have an opportunity to build their own worm bin and tour New Horizon Organics in Bunker Hill, one of the nation's largest vermicomposting facilities, with more than six tons of red wiggler worms. The tours of New Horizon Organics will be offered Sunday, Feb. 6, and Tuesday, Feb. 8.

Registration, which includes lunch, costs $35 if paid in advance or $50 at the door. Materials for the bin project cost $30 and are not included in the registration fee. To reserve a seat, call Elizabeth Burns of the Illinois Stewardship Alliance at (217) 498-9707.

[Illinois Department of Agriculture news release]

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