This fall I have been inviting WFA members to share information about their vermicomposting businesses here on the WFA (public) blog. The aim is to help these members promote their businesses, while providing readers with an inside look at some of the cool things that are possible when you get involved in the wonderful world of vermi-entrepreneurship.
Our first submission comes from my good friend (but NO, she is not a relative – haha!), Cristy Christie, owner of Slo Country Worm Farm. Cristy has been involved in my worm business training group since the fall of 2009 when I launched the first incarnation of the WFA, known as the Red Worm Composting “Inner Circle”. From her initial contact email right up to the present day she has maintained incredible enthusiasm and drive regarding her desire to start up a business enterprise in this field – and her results thus far (very inspirational indeed) are a clear indication of this!
I must admit to being somewhat taken-aback (in a good way) when I read what Cristy wrote – it almost sounds like a testimonial in places (completely unsolicited, I can assure you – haha). Teasing aside, Cristy certainly provides us with a great update on her progress, so I know lots of people will be inspired. Anyway, here is what she had to say:
You have been such a huge inspiration to me! I just had to thank you! You helped me step by step to set up my website, www.slocountyworms.com, as well as recommend the inexpensive, yet professional platforms on which I built the site. I’m really a worm farmer, not a computer nerd, so the idea of venturing in to uncharted territory was really scary. I just knew I was going to end up spending too much time in front of the computer frustrated and confused, but NOT! I have received so many compliments on my site…I simply could not have done it without you!
I’ve been sort of absent over the past few months, not participating much in the forum, etc, so I thought I’d share what has occupied my time.
After attending my 2nd Worm Conference in Las Vegas in May, hosted by Rhonda Sherman at NCSU, I was inspired, yet again! The vermiculture world offers so much good to anyone having any connection with soil! And those in the business are so keen to share knowledge and experience. Everyone with an interest in worms and vermicompost should attend at least once! I hope to see you there next year! 🙂 In fact, you should be a speaker!
One fun event was to be on TV on a local station. That was a real hoot! I posted that on my site…(remember the help you gave me on embedding?) The Growing Solutions Brewer I invested in was a good decision. In fact, I take it with me often – at Earth Day, Garden Discussions and local nurseries, local art & craft fairs, etc. It’s a good conversation starter and the education I can give is priceless! But I must say the most fun I have with a “prop” is with Dad’s old grist mill. He used to grind corn and made alcohol fuel for the tractors! I set it up at booths and kids and adults alike have a blast grinding up hard clods of vermicompost. I give them a small bag, they grind and when I tell them to take it home, their eyes just light up! It’s too much fun!
Anyway, this was all well and good, but I had to ask myself…do I take my business to the next step and expand or continue at the small scale production level of approx. 6,000 lbs of vermicompost per year. I have only one 20′ flow thru worm bin.
I decided to put my toe in to test the water and got a booth at the annual Olive Festival here in Paso Robles, CA.
It’s a very popular event, as olive orchards are cropping up everywhere here. Several thousand people usually attend. Boy, the water was really warm! The activity at the booth was non-stop and sales were great! Previous very small events had been fun and I made good contacts, but this event really hit the nail on the head for me. I even landed a big landscaping project which I blogged about at http://www.slocountyworms.com/category/events/. I am not a landscaper but am fortunate to have a friend who is and is also a Soil Food Web Advisor. We worked together on this one and I supplied the project with all the vermicompost I could get together. I didn’t have enough so I called on my sister who helped fill the order. Demand was high, supply was short…waaaay short.
Short story: My husband and I discussed the build-out at length, I went to my banker, got some money (I’m making that sound really easy! ha ha) and construction is well under way. I take delivery on a new 40′ flow through system in a couple of weeks and will have the 20′ foot system modified so I will have two 40′ systems by spring!
Both Jac and I see huge potential! People from all walks of life are starting to understand the value that this material adds to soil and plants; many others are starting their own small bins at home to feed worms their kitchen scraps and supply their own gardens with vermicompost. School and community projects are popping up all over! It’s very exciting to be part of it all.
But once again Bentley, if it wasn’t for you, your vast knowledge and generous spirit, I know I wouldn’t have gone this far in such a short period of time! Thank you again and keep up the great work!
[Thank-YOU, Cristy! It’s the enthusiastic encouragement from people like yourself that’s kept me going on this path!
If you’d like to learn more about Cristy, be sure to check out her website (linked above) and her RWC Interview.