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Green Barbarians–Ellen Sandbeck

A Buddha A Day–Ellen Sandbeck

Prisoners Cut Landscaping Costs With Worm Farm Compost Project

Prisoners at the Federal Prison Camp (FPC) in Duluth, Minn., have saved the prison $40,000 through a worm-composting program that turns the facility's organic waste into compost and fertilizer. With an initial $5,000 investment two years ago, the prisoners built a worm bin 5-feet wide, 2-feet deep and 100 feet long and installed a drainage system. The prison stocked the bin with red worms from Northern California and got advice on running the operation from a local expert on worm composting, also known as vermiculture. With the liquids and compost material now replacing professional fertilizer for flowerbeds and gardens, the program has reduced the prison's annual operating expenses by $40,000.

Paper Towels for Lunch

The prison feeds the worms two or three times a week, disposing of 300-900 pounds of waste that would have ended up in the prison trash compactor. The worms now eat an estimated 30 percent to 40 percent of the food waste.

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