My friend and colleague, Francisco Niembro, is a vermicomposter in Queretaro, Mexico (about two hours northwest of Mexico City). Like many others, Francisco followed a rather serendipitous path to become a vermicomposter, starting his professional career as a dentist.
In 2003, his parents decided to start a side business in anticipation of their pending retirement. Their first venture was to start a hydroponic farm to grow lettuce and tomatoes, but they ran into some difficulties with a plague that contaminated their trial crops. Looking for a remedy, they tried a vermicompost extract and it quickly resolved the problem. This led them to research vermicomposting and they soon purchased some worms and conducted a pilot project starting with eight windrows on a small piece of property that they owned. Over the next 5 years, they expanded to 26 windrows.
In 2009, their business, Aldea Verde Lombricultura ("Green Village Vermiculture") had moved their entire operation to a 4-hectare property (~10 acres) and expanded to 50 windrows. Their primary feedstock was spent substrate from large mushroom producers which doesn't require pre-composting. However, the portion of their total mix that does is managed beautifully by an O2Compost ASP (aerated static pile) system.
As their processing capacity increased and the agricultural market continued to grow, their customers began to ask Aldea Verde to teach them the Art and Science of Vermicomposting. In 2009, Aldea Verde began leading bimonthly hands-on workshops, each attended by 30-40 people. To date, Aldea Verde has taught over 1,600 people, hosted 60+ workshops, and is considered one of the leading experts in the vermicompost industry.
Along the way, the primary focus for Aldea Verde turned from producing worm castings (vermicomposting) to raising worms (vermiculture) which takes somewhat longer to achieve. Aldea Verde also began to offer consulting services to large agricultural businesses, hotels, municipalities, and others. To date, they have had the opportunity to help design and develop over 50 industrial composting and vermicomposting facilities throughout Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Ireland, and the United States.
A mutual friend, Steve Churchill of the Urban Worm Company, interviewed Francisco back in 2018. If you are interested in learning more about Francisco and Aldea Verde, read more HERE