People ask us all the time how we got started with WormaCulture. Well, it all began in 2015 after a good friend of mine suggested that we take a look into something known as Vermiculture. At the time we had no idea what he was talking about, but became interested in seeing what his suggestion was all about.
You see, my friend (who was also my boss at work) had been involved with a bunch of interesting things over the years. He was a subject matter expert on horticulture, mushroom farming, hunting, fishing, Western North Carolina (he's from Arden), growing ferns and other cool and interesting topics ... like worms. He was basically a "been there and done that" kinda guy who never revealed everything that he actually knew, but that was fine with me as talking with him was always pretty interesting.
He knew that I, like him enjoyed working with my hands, being outdoors and playing in the dirt. The suggestion about vermiculture had stemmed from a conversation about how my wife and I were starting to feel pretty beat up at work. We were still happy as a family but growing tired of our careers and looking for a change of direction.
Over the next few months my friend and I had dozens more conversations about worms, composting, castings and Western North Carolina. I was quickly becoming intrigued with worms and found myself looking forward to our "worm conversations" more and more every day. The wheels of interest had been set in motion ...
Despite not knowing a lot about vermiculture, he seemed to appreciate how well my wife and I worked together and our strong work ethics. (we've been together since middle school back in Maryland). To this day I still believe that his suggestion about vermiculture was preplanned and mindreading was just another one of his many talents, but either way we're extremely grateful for him and what his suggestion set in motion for our family!
So after doing some research we decided to start our composting journey with a pound of composting worms from Uncle Jim's Worm Farm and a Worm Factory 360 composting bin, just like many others do. We were super excited to get started with our new "worm farm" and when the package arrived we got straight to work.
When we finished putting everything together I instantly knew that we were onto something great! I was checking our new setup multiple times per day (probably disturbing the process more than I should have) but like our kids I was excited to see nature at work! We were having such a blast feeding our worms and watching them squirm all around.
Fast forward a few months later and we were still in love with the process. Food scraps were being diverted, worm densities were increasing and castings were adding up. Equally cool was that our bin was located right in the middle of our kitchen and the process of composting our scraps was completely silent and odorless!
We were happy to see that our Worm Factory was working exactly as described and that our initial pound of worms was now well over five pounds! It was interesting to see nature doing it's thing and the bin ultimately turned out to be a great science project and source of entertainment for our family. Talk about money well spent.
After a few more weeks we decided to expand and purchased a plastic bin from Lowes. Once home, we added some bedding material and took half of the worms from our original setup and relocated them to our new bin. We then added in some food scraps, drilled a few holes for ventilation and closed the lid. Talk about easy!
We were excited to see what was going to happen but were a little nervous at the same time. To our amazement though, the worms in both bins were thriving again after just a few days! Not only was most of our household food waste getting composted now, we were having a blast with the process and starting to feel like we actually knew what we were doing.
As the following weeks went by we started to experiment with different ways to harvest our castings and began giving some of it away to our neighbors. We were now officially hooked on composting and true believers in the magic of the worm, but a new challenge was just around the corner ... a family vacation!
Since our composting operation was doing so well, we were a little hesitant with leaving our worms alone for nearly two weeks. I was diligently doing research online and trying to convince myself that everything was going to be ok. We were concerned that once we came home all of our worms would be dead.
But after a few weeks we had to finally pull the trigger with our vacation. We set our worms on autopilot with plenty of food scraps, shut off the lights, locked the door and off we went (to the same area where we eventually moved to this year). Talk about a small world!
Twelve days later we returned from vacation. Before we even unpacked the truck, I immediately went in to check on our worms. I walked through the door and took a whiff of the air and thankfully there was no odor. I then went into the kitchen to check on our bins and to my amazement the worms had eaten most of the food scraps but were doing just fine! I was now REALLY hooked on worms and composting, but unfortunately still had to go unpack our truck. Lol.
Over the next year or so we experimented with different setups, harvesting methods and bedding materials. In late 2016 we stepped up and purchased two Hungry Bin composting units and relocated our worms into them, abandoning our trustworthy Worm Factory setup. We still have it to this day, although the only thing it collects now is dust in the garage.
As the year went by we were thinking of ways to make an income from our newfound hobby, but realized that the heat and humidity of Florida (which eventually killed off some of our worms) was going to be tough on our operation. By this time we were also pretty much done with our careers and a major life changing moment was just around the corner for our family ...
At the end of 2016 we took a family vacation for the holidays (again to the same area where we now live) and after returning home we decided that it was finally time to leave our careers behind. We both simultaneously pulled the trigger (on January 19th to be exact) and have since never looked back.
We were now free of the stress, long hours and going in opposite directions every day, and were finally able to fulfill a promise to our children in getting ourselves our first family pet (a German Shepherd puppy). It was truly an awesome moment for our family as we now had the time to plan our move, sell our home and focus on each other and our worm operation going forward!
Before leaving Florida, we started setting up the business side of WormaCulture. We purchased the domain, set up our legal structure and started planning on how we were going to scale our operation. In late May 2017 we finally moved to beautiful Weaverville, North Carolina (another fun story of it's own!), transporting our worms, bins and belongings with us up the coast to our new location. Our plan had finally come together!
Ever since arriving in Weaverville we've been searching for a place to scale our operation but have yet to find the right location. We've added twelve Worm Inn Mega's and fifty breeder bins to our original setup and have been working on the marketing and technical sides of our business too.
We have plans to double our operation again over the next few months. Since real estate prices are currently at record levels here in WNC, we've decided to use our spacious two and a half car garage to work out of for now. It's been another blessing in our lives as our garage came insulated with more than enough space for us and our worms ... well maybe for now.
So that's it and we hope that you've enjoyed our story! To think that all of this started two years ago as a suggestion to two newbies with a pound of worms is truly amazing. We’re extremely grateful for everything and can't wait to see what the next two years has in store for us!
Be sure to check back soon for more of our updates. Until then. Cheers!