By Bev Jordan
Thousands of hungry worms are connecting residents in a North Kellyville apartment complex and improving outcomes for the environment.
The Hills Shire Council is running the threemonth Worm Farm trial, the first of its kind by a council in Australia, and if the La’Hay family’s response is anything to go by it is already a raging success with 84kg of landfill saved in the first two weeks.
Residents Paul and Kerry La’Hay say the biggest impact has been on their daughter.
“We joined the trial because we are trying to create a community for our daughter Simone,” said Paul. “Simone is a real livewire and she absolutely loves people.”
He said Simone took around 2kg worth of scraps each week to spread over the worm farm. “It gives Simone a chance to interact with people on a different level and the people in the complex enjoy interacting with her.”
The ‘skip bin-sized’ worm farm, supplied by Worms Downunder, is located in a carpark – just beneath the complex.
It houses roughly 120,000 (30kg of) worms, which produce both worm castings and worm tea for the building to use in their shared garden plots and on their balcony verandas. Paul said it was great putting vegetable and fruit scraps to good use rather than throwing them in the red topped bin.
“We were chucking so much away, now it goes to the worm farm. In the first two weeks Regent Honeyeater Grove 20 pilot residences saved 84kg of landfill,” he said.
Marie Akkary who is leading the 22 families involved said: “Their enthusiasm has been amazing and we wouldn’t be able to do this without them. Growing up I watched my grandparents utilise their food scraps for the garden. (Their) garden was the most lush, fertilised soil I’ve ever seen … as a result their garden always produced the tastiest fruit and vegetables. I wanted to share this with others especially the youth in our complex. Having them involved in this project not only provides education but a sense of importance for our next generation.“
She is also informing non-participating residents about the process. “This project has brought our community closer together. It’s been wonderful.”
The project has been applauded by Hills Shire Mayor Dr Michelle Byrne:“A worm farm is fairly low maintenance, and it’s a great way to process food waste. Worm tea and castings is highly regarded as a powerful natural fertiliser for plants.”
Councillor Robyn Preston who has been advocating for such a trial said: “Apartments bring a massive increase in population and with that comes an increase in the food waste created by apartment occupants. Council is thinking creatively to find ways to manage this waste and recycling food scraps onsite has been something I have been advocating for,” she said.
“I would like to see residents from other apartments adopting this recycling program if this trial is successful.”
• The Hills Shire Council has teamed up with the NSW EPA and Compost Revolution to offer residents a 50% discount and free delivery on compost bins, worm farms and bokashi bins which have the potential to halve rubbish output
• For further details, visit www.thehills.nsw.gov.au and type in ‘Composting & Worm Farming’ in the search bar