by Dani Blumstein
Soil. Dirt. Worm poop. Compost. No matter what you call it its essential. It’s my house, my growing substance, and my nutrients. I’m a red wriggler worm. My main job in the agricultural business is to break down your food waste into a highly nutritional substance for your famers to grow new produce in. I can only feed you if you feed me; it’s a mutual relationship. I need your help as much as you need mine and without the two of us working as a team we would be in very bad shape.
Soil is the base of all growing substances. According to the Land Institute, soil is as non-renewable as oil. At the moment, conventional farming is using up our healthy soil and leaving behind unsuitable land for farming. This is problematic because we can’t get by without healthy soil. Here at Bailey Urban Farm and GREENhouse we are taking a different approach to the soil we use; we’re putting a bit of love into our nutrient cocktail.
Here at Bailey we have 60,000 lbs of soil. The soil is a mixture of food waste, manure, and wood chips and is composted at our sister farm, the Student Organic Farm. All of the food waste that goes there is locally sourced from different places on Michigan State University’s Campus. Bailey is also doing some of our own backyard composting. We use two different types of compost styles: vermicompost and hot compost. Vermicompost is breaking down food waste using red wiggler worms and a nitrogen base. Hot compost is the layering of food waste, plant material, and nitrogen with the addition of water for microorganisms to live and break down to a usable soil. Our soil has a story of its own and Bailey would be nothing without it. We plan to continue these practices as a means of education and to grow delicious local food.
Dani Blumstein is a sophomore at Michigan State University majoring in Zoology with a minor in Environmental and Sustainability Studies.