By Jamie Fisher
Dodge County Farmers for Healthy Soil & Healthy Water (HSHW) sponsored a farm tour on July 21 at Lush Farms, LLC in Watertown, Wis. Nearly 50 attendees learned about worm castings and soil health benefits.
Troy Hinke, Living Roots Compost Tea owner, presented on soil health and microbiology. The conversation focused on healthy soil biology and the benefits of creating soil structure, increasing water holding capacity, increasing airflow and attracting earthworms.
“Feed the soil, not the plant,” Hinke shared, “Dirt is dead, soil is alive.”
Anthony Arbucias, co-owner of Lush Farms, shared details about raising African night crawlers. Lush Farms is a producer of organic worm castings, raising worms and selling their castings. Worm castings, also known as vermicasts, contain important trace minerals and natural plant growth hormones not found in commercial fertilizers or manure.
“A worm will eat 1.5 times its body weight in a day,” Arbucias said. “The healthiest worms eat the most and breed the most.”
Similar to all other species, a worm’s habitat includes shelter, water and food. Organic matter provides shelter, water in the soil provides moisture and food comes from plants living roots.
Lush Farms is continuing to grow its business. In 2019, it started out with four bins and now has 300 bins. Each bin contains 6,600 earthworms measured by weight. Worms like it cooler, and the lights stay on 24/7. If the soil is too dry, the worms will clump together. If the soil is too wet, the worms will drown.
Lush Farms understand the importance of providing biology as soon as possible. The worm castings provide biology and organic matter to the soil. When the worm casting adds microbiology to the existing soil, this releases nutrients in the soil for plants to absorb, ultimately creating healthier and stronger plants.
Composting worms are primarily sold commercially to soil blenders who repackage them. On a smaller scale, sales are available during open houses, at home gardening businesses and on their website, 4lushfarms.com. Future goals include converting the castings into a “compost tea” spray, providing an opportunity to benefit farmland acres. Lush Farms believes stronger plants make healthier food which makes healthier people.