- Associated Press - Monday, March 28, 2016

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A Lincoln man has opened a commercial worm farm that takes discarded food waste and turns it into a compost product with the creature’s help.

The Lincoln Journal Star (https://bit.ly/1MMLlyj ) reports that Jeremiah Picard’s company, Big Red Worms, opened in September to reduce the volume of waste that goes to the city landfill, to create a natural soil-enhancing product for school and community gardens and to teach students about the benefits of composting.

“We’re taking trash, and we’re making something that’s really good for our soil,” Picard said.

Picard estimates that he has about 1 million worms inside the two large bins at his facility.

Through the company’s vermiculture process, Picard creates worm castings, a natural fertilizer that helps plants use nutrients that are already present in the soil. Worm castings are the undigested material, soil and bacteria excreted by a worm after it eats the food scraps.

The company plans to sell its worm castings to area farmers after it gets a screening machine that’ll allow it to remove worms and contaminants from the compost.

Picard said that by partnering with two Lincoln Public Schools - Culler Middle School and Dawes Middle School - his company has diverted 75,000 pounds of food waste from the city landfill so far.

Lincoln Public Schools Sustainability Coordinator Brittney Albin said that the project with has complemented the district’s recycling program and serves as a great learning opportunity for students.

Albin said the schools have diverted 86 percent of their waste from the city landfill through the partnership. Lincoln Public Schools also teams up with composting operations run by Prairieland Dairy and Nebraska Organic Waste Energy, which serve 14 schools.

Picard has also expanded his business to collect food waste from a local bar, where he has already collected 850 pounds of waste.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, https://www.journalstar.com

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