GOSHEN — The owner of a new worm-farming service, having marked a milestone of diverting 1,000 pounds of food waste from the Elkhart County landfill, is hoping others will see the benefits of composting.  

AJ Delgadillo, owner of Post-Waste Worm Farm, launched his service earlier this year. 

“This 1,000 pounds is big for a one-person operation, but the opportunity is here for this to get so much bigger,” Delgadillo said.

John Bowers, director of solid waste at the Elkhart County Landfill, said the amount of food waste diverted from the landfill by the worm farm so far pales in comparison to the amount of trash produced by residents. The local landfill, a mid-sized facility, collects about 1,000 tons of garbage each day, he said. 

“It’s not really going to affect us,” he said. “It’s surely a good thing, though, finding a way to turn food waste into something productive.”

Food waste from the customers is collected by Delgadillo and composted by the newly developed organization in the same way recyclables can be picked up curbside. Once picked up, compostable materials are mixed with a blend of other by-products from wood workers and coffee shops in the area and then fed to composting worms.

The worms eat the collected scraps and turn them into a dark material valued for its high nutrient properties in gardening. “Black gold” and “worm castings” are both terms for the end product of this process, which is essentially worm poop.

Worm castings are black and basically odorless, smelling a bit like a walk in the woods. They’re rich in microbes, nutrients and organic matter. They make both house plants and garden plants grow larger and healthier. Many people take advantage of worm castings as an all-natural and non-toxic alternative to chemical fertilizers.

Post-Waste Worm Farm’s program has produced over 217 gallons of this worm castings so far out of material that was considered trash. Some of the worm castings that are produced are given to the program’s subscribers, some are donated to community gardens, and the rest is sold to community members at the Goshen Farmers Market.

Bowers, the solid waste director, said the average person generates around four and a half pounds of trash each day, and it adds up fast.

“If 1,000 people did this same thing, it would really start to add up,” he said of the composting program.

Goshen and the surrounding community have been invited to celebrate the milestone at the Goshen Farmers Market on Saturday. Delgadillo hopes to use this time to spread information about his community compost program and celebrate an increased partnership with community gardens.

“I’m really excited because this is a chance as a community to rethink our relationship with soil, chemical fertilizers and waste,” he said. “We know we can’t fill the landfills forever. We know we can’t let chemical fertilizer into our rivers forever. There’s a path to end both of these problems and this first 1,000 pounds shows me that the folks in Goshen are ready to walk.”

More information is available from Delgadillo at 574-536-3534 or postwastefarm@gmail.com

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