My friend Rhonda Sherman wrote "The Worm Farmer's Handbook". It is a detailed look into the implementations of mid to large-scale vermicomposting for farms, businesses, municipalities, schools and institutions. If you are considering a future that includes vermicomposting as a hobby or business venture, I strongly encourage you to purchase a copy of this book, and read it cover to cover.
Rhonda's story about how she became one of the world's experts in vermicomposting was truly serendipitous. She was hired in 1993 by the North Carolina State University (NCSU) to educate local governments, businesses, and citizens about recycling.
As a faculty member of NCSU, Rhonda was expected to publish (or perish) and she outlined a set of six fact sheets on recycling (e.g. construction waste, business waste, etc.). She also included an idea for a seventh fact sheet titled "Worms Can Recycle Your Garbage".
At that time, Rhonda's colleague's thought she was crazy, saying "you're going to write about worms?" But, of the seven articles, this is the one that got people's attention. In fact, it garnered so much interest that in 2001 Rhonda organized a half-day workshop on the subject of vermicomposting and 50 people attended. At the end of the workshop, many of the attendees suggested that she expand it to a full day and by 2003 it was further expanded to a two-day symposium that she led for the next 21 years.
During that time, Rhonda has written 65 publications and she's worked with people from 126 countries. In 2017, Rhonda was approached by a publisher who suggested she write a book on the subject, and in 2018 "The Worm Farmer's Handbook" became a reality. It discusses a wide variety of topics, including:
- Choosing the right poroduction system
- Regulatory issues and developing a business and marketing plan
- Finding and managing feedstocks
- Pre-composting: why and how to do it
- Monitoring an active worm bed
- Harvesting, screening, testing, packaging, and storing vermicast
- Markets for earthworms and vermicast
- Food security: how vermicast benefits soils and plants
- Keys to success: avoiding common pitfalls
As I said earlier, I strongly encourage you to purchase this book and read cover to cover.
Rhonda is now enjoying retirement and working on selected projects as a private consultant.