Green Initiative

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Back story

Vermicomposting was suggested to me by Payton Chung, co-founder of wpgi. Previously, my C3 ideas involved outside projects. I had been focusing on neighborhood litter cans that attach to fences. Humboldt Park is covered with litter and I had hoped to create a can similar to those in Wicker Park, except that my cans would say Humboldt Park on the front and on the sides say Beautiful Paseo in Spanish and something like keep it clean in Polish or Ukrainian. I was also keen on green roofs and a bicycle powered mulcher / public art project for our GreenHouse garden.
As I explored these ideas I ran into problems. Green roofs were out--too expensive. I could afford an area the size of my bathroom. The lady in charge of the organization that supplied Wicker Park's bins was most unhelpful. I had difficultly finding a manufacturer of the bins. The bike mulcher idea was moving forward; JW from the garden had a mulcher, bike parts are easy, and we could probably find a bike welder too. But I was concerned about the limited scope of people benefiting from the project--people who use and live near the garden. My impression from the C3 Leader training was that our project should benefit a more general population and be more educational in scope.
I thought about suggested projects from the C3 classes, like rainbarrels, but many of my neighbors rent. Since I missed a June class due to an out of town wedding, I didn't receive my funding until I completed an October class. By then, the weather was getting chilly and summer projects weren't feasible.
As we tore down the garden and (gas) mulched the compost for the winter pile down, I was reminded of the beauty of composting. Sticks, stalks, leaves, and scraps break down to become dirt which become vegetables.
Vermicomposting was appealing because it would educate and change behaviors of a variety of people in the neighborhood. A big fan of cradle to cradle thinking, where waste equals food for another process, worm composting was the perfect thing to do when it's too cold to compost outside. It was a less selfish than the bike mulcher. next time...
We began to researching worm composting. JW donated a fancy pants Australian worm bin and the experiment began. I tried out hybrid design adapted from the Aussie bin and the OSCR Junior bin with a few of my own refinements, like the tippie quick pour hole and the dual size bins where the base is deeper for more air. I learned that hard plastic can crack when you drill it, so like plaster walls, a little tape first helps. Worms like the dark so clear plastic is discouraged, however I decoupaged three sides of a plastic bin for scientific observations.