Small Worm Business – Part III – Selling Worm Castings

Those who have followed along through my various “worm business” writings, videos etc – especially WFA members – will probably know that I’ve put a lot of emphasis on selling primarily worms, and just generally trying to stick with an overall K.I.S.S. philosophy. One of the early Modern Worm Farming videos even explains why I’ve chosen NOT to sell worm castings.

Well, it’s funny how quickly things can change sometimes!
:lol:

Yes, that should indeed imply that I am now selling worm castings (or “vermicompost”, as I often refer to this material) via my small “real world” vermicomposting business – and it’s all thanks to what I might refer to as a “strategic partnership” with a large-scale worm farmer in my region.

Let’s start by taking a look at WHY exactly I’ve been resisting the urge to sell castings up until now.

1) Generally speaking, if you really want to get into castings biz in any sort of serious way you’ll more than likely need to spend some money – potentially a lot of money – in order to get things rolling effectively. You’ll certainly have a greater chance of success if you also have a decent amount of space. Bottom-line, it’s not really in line with the “small scale”, “fun” business approach I’ve been taking with my “real world” vermicomposting business, and not ideally suited for my “suburban worm farm”.

2) Worm growing and serious castings production don’t necessarily work well together. The beds that work best for breeding loads of juicy worms aren’t necessarily going to be the same beds that help you produce the finest quality of castings in the world. It’s also important to remember that if you are constantly removing your worms so they can be sold, this may end up slowing down your castings production somewhat. Some worm farmers, such as my friend Jack Chambers from Sonoma Valley Worm Farm, don’t seem to have any trouble excelling at both – but again, I live in the suburbs and have been aiming to keep things as simple a fun as possible.

3) This isn’t an ideal product to ship given how much it can weigh, so effective promotion would generally involve more effort to spread the word in my own region. In line with my overall K.I.S.S. philosophy, I actually haven’t really done any significant local promotion of my business thus far (believe it or not!) – the vast majority of my Canadian customers simply find me via my small business website (and a few via the Red Worm Composting website).

So what exactly led me to change my take on the castings-selling situation?

For starters, back at the beginning of June I met with an agro-mineral specialist and became intrigued with the idea of augmenting castings and castings teas with rock dusts, and other amendments. I also remembered that my large-scale worm farming friend (who was actually my “worm supplier” when I first started out) had a decent supply of castings available. Lastly, I just figured it would – bare minimum – be a fun experiment to try out!

The beauty of the castings biz is that if you can get it “right” – i.e. produce/obtain some good quality castings, and find a market for them – it can potentially end up becoming a great source of revenue. What’s nice about it in comparison to selling worms is that you can get lots of bags ready for sale without worrying about a very limited “shelf life” (I certainly don’t keep bags of worms sitting around – all my worms are harvested once the orders come in). There is also much greater potential for repeat business (assuming you get it “right”, and customers are impressed with the product, of course).

As is the case with selling worms, though -when you are purchasing castings wholesale and reselling, you definitely need to keep a very close eye on your numbers. Make sure you tally all your expenses so you know exactly what your cost per bag (or whatever type of container you are selling them in) is before you decide on your pricing.

Initially, a lot of my focus will be on getting my castings mix in the hands of customers, and doing a lot of testing with the material myself. As such, my aim is to break even, or perhaps make a small profit with my first cubic yard of material. I wasn’t originally going to put any real effort into packaging – I was simply going to sell the material in old poly-fiber feed bags (hoping I’d be able to track a bunch more of them, since my own supply of these bags is fairly limited).

After giving it some more thought, though, I decided to purchase some bags (similar type of bag but smaller in size) – not only so I could offer customers a clean, consistent “look”, but also for the sake of saving myself a fair amount of time and frustration attempting to track down a free source of used bags. I am already REALLY glad I did!

Where things go from here has yet to be determined! I’m happy to report that I’ve sold 12 bags (to a single customer) already – and my order page isn’t even up yet, nor have I done any sort of promotion.

I’ll be sure to keep everyone posted!
8)

Leave A Reply (21 comments So Far)


  1. Ted Cravins
    3 years ago

    Nice going B,
    I’m sure this winter, you’ll be busier than ever trying to get your worms to put out a little more effort to give you that bigger amount of VC for the 2012 growing season. I wish you luck in this new adventure.


  2. Gail Cutting
    3 years ago

    Hi Bentley,
    I’m having trouble with my tower style composter. I use up to 3 trays for my worms and there is a drip pan at the bottom. My problem is that no matter how much water leaches out, the worm castings always remain soggy, never dry. What can I do?
    Thanks.


  3. Bentley
    3 years ago

    Hi Ted,
    The VC I’m selling is from someone else, but you definitely raise an interesting point about the winter focus. That can be the real challenge in regions with a BIG spring gardening push. One would need to have a lot of the material ready to go, but actually producing lots of it during the winter (in colder regions) isn’t really easy.
    Plenty of it now – but the gardening demand has dropped way down!


  4. Bentley
    3 years ago

    Hi Gail,
    Producing really nice castings tends to be a two-step process when you are using plastic enclosed systems. Generally, once it’s been harvested, the material then needs to sit in open air for a period of time. This helps to dry it out (just make sure to break it up continuously during this period so it doesn’t end up turning into a vermi-concrete block! lol
    It also helps the material to stabilize a bit more, thus improving the quality


  5. jean kruse
    3 years ago

    Hi Gail, the TexasWormRancher came up with a great solution to the prob. of too wet vc.You put it in cardbrd boxes and store for 2-3 weeks. The worms continue processing and the vc dries into nice fluffy stuff with no hard lumps as in open drying. I use this process constantly and it works really well-just remember to put a tray under the boxes as the bottoms do get wet and start to break apart.


  6. Dominic Myers
    3 years ago

    I have just recently started worm farming and I want to know how to get started selling the worm castings and the worm tea…any advice would be more than appreciated!


  7. Cal Kate
    3 years ago

    I was wondering where you found such nice bags… I can get sand bags from Grainger but they have a logo on them I don’t really like but have had to live with. Any bag suppliers you could recommend?


  8. Bentley
    3 years ago

    Hi Kate,
    I get all my bags (including cloth worm bags) and shipping supplies from Uline – their selection is incredible!


  9. Peter
    3 years ago

    OKay first how much do you sell the castings for I just harvested and I have a few pounds of castings and I want to package them and sell them this summer but have no idea what they are worth and by the time I get to summer I should be able to harvest again.
    The other thing is my worms seem fantastic but they are not breeding as fast as I hoped so I am wondering what I could doing wrong since winter came I moved them from my kitchen closer to heat cause I thought the kitchen flow was too cold and figured it was slowing them down so they are nice and warm now but they just don’t seem to be breeding fast enough can you recommend some tips to promote breeding initially I wanted to use them for fishing but I just harvested and there is no way these worms could be hooked maybe they need to be fattened or something any recommendations there would be great I have only been doing this for 3 to 6 months and this was really my first harvest of castings I only had a quarter pound of worms to start. I believe I have a couple pounds now but just doesn’t seem like enough my email is gate420@gmail.com if anyone can give me some tips just subject worm tips I won’t email you back if you ask me not too thanks


  10. Mary Groth
    3 years ago

    I just started composting with worms and have about tripled my worms. Wondering what legal or business requirements are there to selling either worms or castings?


  11. Rich Feiller
    2 years ago

    Bentley hw has the casting business going since your initial sale? Are you including someVC with your worms as you sell them?


  12. Bentley
    2 years ago

    Hey Rich,
    That first summer (2011) when I tested out selling castings was a bit of a dud. I got started WAY too late and I was left with quite a lot of material.
    This past spring (2012) – due to all the emails I was getting – I decided to give it another shot and it was a COMPLETELY different situation. I sold lots of bags and even with really low pricing was able to turn a decent profit (wrote about this on the forum not too long ago). Was still mostly an experiment, with a lot of the focus being on getting the material into as many hands as possible – but I was pleasantly surprised by the way it turned out.
    Things once again petered out as summer approached though.

    Not sure if you saw any of my mentions of this, but I’ve actually decided to take time away from my “real world” stuff so as to put a lot more focus on my online work. Things are coming together with the web stuff, and we’ll see how things look in the spring as far as getting back to the real world business goes.


  13. Peter
    2 years ago

    Was thinking of selling the castings as well I have some I have saved up since I started but The price what do you sell a lb of castings for??


  14. scott
    2 years ago

    Hi there,

    I saw your story here and it interested me. I too was thinking of the casting business.

    The reason I am thinking of this is because I have an ability to have 100’s of pounds of dog manure every week. Gross rite?? lol

    But this brings me to my point. With all this dog poop, would that not make for a profitable casting business. Bearing in mind all other aspects of the business where in place. Does dog waist work good for worm food and worm casting business?


  15. Sean
    8 months ago

    Are you still selling castings? How’s it going? Can you share what you are able to get from a retail and wholesale level in terms of average dollars per pound? I purchased some worms initially to do some composting for my home, but have since been very intrigued by the idea of creating castings not only for my personal garden, but to sell as well.

    Thanks!
    Sean


  16. Angel henry
    8 months ago

    Hi Bentley, I have been following along for about 2 months now on wfa and I wanted to thank you for that by the way. I started my lil farm early march with 50 worms. I simply wanted to know if I could “grow” them. I’m happy to report that in one single month I hand counted and now have 156! And lots of babies and eggs. So I have enlarged my area to the shady spot on concrete and surrounding cinder blocks about 4’x8′ with divider in the middle for transfer later. My goal is to do what you started doing with selling castings on small scale to our local small plant growers. Where did you find the bags, how much goes in a bag and how moist does it need to be? Does it go bad if too dry? Thank you!
    Angel H
    Vacaville, Ca


  17. Ken Mitzel
    7 months ago

    I have also started this ‘craze’ and looking to making it a hobby. My initial thought is to share my ‘product’ with my friends and see how this organic material from the castingw (castings and tea) works in yard and garden. I will begin to sell once I see how beneficial the tea can be. Once I see it i will believe in it and look forward to someday retiring selling worm products.

    Thanks for the write up. It’s keeping me inspired.


  18. travis martin
    5 months ago

    I am looking for a vendor that sells worms castings in the northern Virginia. If you are or may know of any please feel free to contact Travis at freedomleesburg@gmail.com.
    Thanks, Travis


  19. Kemper Burt
    2 months ago

    So what kind of bags did you get?

    Im looking all over and the only thing I see on commercial worm castings sales is clear plastic with perforations. So I dont know where to find bags already checked Uline.

    Thanks for any help.


  20. john vance
    1 month ago

    Bentley,
    You mentioned Uline for cloth shipping bags but I could not find them.
    Can you send me a specific URL? Thanks

    john vance


  21. Bentley
    1 month ago

    John,
    I use Uline sand bags:
    http://www.uline.com/bl_5565/sand-bags

    The “cloth bags” I used to use for worms are called “parts bags”. You can find them here:
    http://www.uline.com/BL_202/Cloth-Parts-Bags

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