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Worm farming pays off

March 25, 2013|By Ed Ernstes (ernstes@wsbt.com) | WSBT-TV

ELKHART COUNTY – When you talk about farming, you usually think of raising cows, pigs or chickens, but how about worms?

That’s the case of an Army veteran wounded in Iraq who is now raising worms as part of a cash crop, but not for fishing.

Every couple of weeks, Fred Dunfee can be found harvesting his crop. That crop involves worms he, his wife and mother-in-law raise at his farm for their company “Positive Organic Living.”

They harvest droppings or castings produced by the worms as an organic fertilizer.

“We harvest that, and then we run it through our screener, and our screener, all the castings drop into a container,” said Dunfee. “We take and harvest the worm waste and then package it up.”

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To get to this point, the worms are first raised in plastic buckets, worm condos if you will, in a temperature-controlled room.

At last count, he has around 80,000 worms.

“We take peat moss, grain and dairy boosters, and we mix that all together and then put it into the worm containers for new bedding,” Dunfee said. “Every 14 days, it gets eaten by the worms, and then we package it.

The organic fertilizer produced by the worms helps with plant growth.

It takes up the nitrogen and stuff that’s in the soil, and it helps break it down into a readily-available feed that the plants can uptake quickly,” Dunfee added.

The company already has a couple of area clients who are using this unique product and hopes to have it placed soon in area garden stores and even chain stories, and believe it or not, you can already by this product on line.

The demand is growing.

“When we started out, we were doing 80 pounds of casting every two weeks,” said Dunfee. “We’re doing 3,000 pounds every two weeks.”

Dunfee says the use of this kind of organic fertilizer is becoming a big deal on the east and west coasts.

He spent 11 months in Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Maryland after he was hurt when his military vehicle hit an explosive device.

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