• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Anne Miller
  • Pearl Sutton
  • Nicole Alderman
stewards:
  • Mike Haasl
  • r ranson
  • paul wheaton
master gardeners:
  • jordan barton
  • John F Dean
  • Rob Lineberger
  • Carla Burke
  • Jay Angler
gardeners:
  • Greg Martin
  • Ash Jackson
  • Jordan Holland

Is large-scale worm farming compatible with the principles of permaculture?

 
Posts: 14
Location: Granada, Spain
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi folks,

I'm introducing a question that will probably be regarded as troublemaking by some and maybe stupid by others but it is a sincere concern of mine. I am a very avid fan of worms, but mainly in the earth where their function is naturally performed. I'm no expert but I believe permaculture aims to mimic and aid nature rather than to harness nature. I have been watching videos of large-scale worm farms in which enormous beds contain hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of worms for the purpose either of creating castings or for selling worms on. This seems to me to be a form of intensive farming, something I wouldn't have thought is compatible with permaculture. Maybe I could agree with something smaller scale, where worms are bred to be released into the earth to do their work naturally, but even then I don't see why it couldn't be done by encouraging favorable conditions in the soil which would in turn attract worms which would reproduce where they would normally do so, rather than in huge industrial units. The worry being, of course, unintentional consequences such as, hmmm ..., disease. Isn't our experience of intensive farming saturated with unintended disease? Surely having those numbers of worms in confined spaces is inviting catastrophe? It may not have happened yet, but in my opinion it will. And if we have worm collapse, we can add it to colony collapse, swine flu, mad cow disease etc etc etc and we won't be able to say it was big business this time. Has this not occurred to anyone else? Am I missing something obvious?
 
Posts: 16
Location: Tampa, Florida 9b
6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
In order for your argument to hold, I feel like you would also have to say that farming anything is inconsistent with permaculture. So, no chickens, rabbits, cows, pigs, etc. Further, I would even argue that farming plants in beds or even in a specific area would be inconsistent according to your principles. Even more so, I think that changing the landscape to favor water properties that you desire could also be thought of unnatural.

So, I think I'll take this stance:
Permaculture is the understanding and utilization of natural processes in a way that is beneficial to mankind, while also being sustainable for the earth.

By that definition, I would say that a worm bin is taking a natural process and using it to its fullest potential in the effort of being beneficial to mankind. If you've ever kept a worm bin, you will also see that the worm population is naturally governed as well. When there is too much food and living conditions are favorable, there are more worms. When there is too little space and worms are cramped, they slow down reproduction. In that way, nature balances itself.

Currently, I have taken my worm farm and dumped it into a banana circle that I use for composting. That allows there to be a ready supply of worms and I try to keep it suitable for them as best I can. If the pile doesn't get too hot, then they stay there. I also find that I get multiple types of worms too. So, that is cool.

As far as my garden... There are MANY things that are not natural. However, I am using principles of nature to create environments so that it is self-sustaining. My banana circle has the input of my wastes and then turns that into great compost / additives for the garden. I pull weeds from the garden to throw into compost. I add the compost onto the garden plots. I add seed to the plots where I want them. I harvest fruit and veg from the garden plots. I collect rain water and distribute it where I want it to increase yield. There are MANY ways I bastardize nature in the interest of a permaculture type environment.

If you want to create a culture of people that can be permanently sustained, then I think we as a whole should be working together to learn and to teach as much as we can about the natural processes in their simplest forms (like a worm bin) so that the world as a whole can survive and thrive with us still here.

Just my thoughts on things.
 
Nick Ryan
Posts: 14
Location: Granada, Spain
2
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Jonathan Fudge wrote:In order for your argument to hold, I feel like you would also have to say that farming anything is inconsistent with permaculture. So, no chickens, rabbits, cows, pigs, etc. Further, I would even argue that farming plants in beds or even in a specific area would be inconsistent according to your principles. Even more so, I think that changing the landscape to favor water properties that you desire could also be thought of unnatural.

So, I think I'll take this stance:
Permaculture is the understanding and utilization of natural processes in a way that is beneficial to mankind, while also being sustainable for the earth.

By that definition, I would say that a worm bin is taking a natural process and using it to its fullest potential in the effort of being beneficial to mankind. If you've ever kept a worm bin, you will also see that the worm population is naturally governed as well. When there is too much food and living conditions are favorable, there are more worms. When there is too little space and worms are cramped, they slow down reproduction. In that way, nature balances itself.

Currently, I have taken my worm farm and dumped it into a banana circle that I use for composting. That allows there to be a ready supply of worms and I try to keep it suitable for them as best I can. If the pile doesn't get too hot, then they stay there. I also find that I get multiple types of worms too. So, that is cool.

As far as my garden... There are MANY things that are not natural. However, I am using principles of nature to create environments so that it is self-sustaining. My banana circle has the input of my wastes and then turns that into great compost / additives for the garden. I pull weeds from the garden to throw into compost. I add the compost onto the garden plots. I add seed to the plots where I want them. I harvest fruit and veg from the garden plots. I collect rain water and distribute it where I want it to increase yield. There are MANY ways I bastardize nature in the interest of a permaculture type environment.

If you want to create a culture of people that can be permanently sustained, then I think we as a whole should be working together to learn and to teach as much as we can about the natural processes in their simplest forms (like a worm bin) so that the world as a whole can survive and thrive with us still here.

Just my thoughts on things.



Thanks for the reply, which I think sort-of agrees with what I'm saying, or at least doesn't refute it. I'm saying that industrial scale worm farming is potentially wrong, and that maybe I can live with small-scale worm farming, although it would be better in the ground by encouraging beneficial soil structure. I think our definitions of permaculture are in agreement. Obviously there is some sort of balance between the natural and the artificial or the natural and the industrial, but I don't think that small-scale farming of, say, cows or goats where they can eat from unforced sources in pastures, fields, mountains etc is the same as livestock fed through industrial means. Likewise, worms that are confined in huge numbers are environmentally stressed, even if we choose not to recognise it. Take, for example, the practice of feeding them coffee grounds, which is basically turning them into caffeine addicts. My main concern, which I don't think you recognise, is industrial scale worm farming for product - ie, castings, liquid and worms. We don't argue that large-scale industrial chicken farming is ok because we have chickens in our back yard, and I am suggesting that there is a similarity ethically.
gift
 
Diego Footer on Permaculture Based Homesteads - from the Eat Your Dirt Summit
will be released to subscribers in: soon!
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic