HIKI NŌ Episode #806 | Kainalu Elementary School – Windward O‘ahu | Vermicomposting


Third-graders at Kainalu Elementary have been practicing the art of vermicomposting, using earthworms to convert organic waste into fertilizer. Students take turns caring for the worm bins. On Mondays, the worm bins are transferred from one third-grade homeroom to the next. See? The worm bins are watered twice a day, because worms love moisture and thrive in it. The excess water drains into a bucket to produce a nutritious worm tea. The worm tea is a great natural fertilizer for plants. Fridays are feeding days. The custodial and cafeteria staff collect discarded food from school lunches, and the third-graders are tasked with picking up the food waste and feeding the worms. We feed our worms vegetables, grains, fruits and rinds, but no meats or dairy products because worms don’t like those kinds of food. Next, we cover the worms with a worm blanket made from shredded paper from our school office. We are here to pick up the shredded paper for the worms Shredded paper for the compost. It’s right here. Thank you. Thank you The moist worm blanket protects the worms that are sensitive to light. This helps the worms to digest the food and paper to produce a worm casting, a natural fertilizer. After three to four months, the worm casting becomes a rich black fertilizer that contains more nutrients than ordinary soil. This is what the worms produce. This is called vermicast, also known as black gold. The casting is spread around to promote healthy plant growth. We learned about the FBI— fungi, bacteria and invertebrates— and how they work together to break down the compost. Okay, so what we need to do is, we need to get in here, and we need to pull the worms out. Oh. We harvest the worms, and we put them into new bigger bins. We transferred the worms to bigger bins as they started to multiply. We’re shredding cardboard for the worm bins. The shredded cardboard is the first layer in the worm bin. Then, we put the worms on the moist cardboard. Another kind of composting we learn about is aerobic composting. In Kainalu’s garden, we make compost from decayed organic matter to provide a natural fertilizer for the soil. Custodians bring organic matter, and we store it right here so the kids can process it and chop it, and then this material we use in our compost bed. Food waste is also added to the compost bed. We then cover the food waste with green and brown matter. Green rich in nitrogen, and brown rich in carbon. And then, we let it rest for a few months, and we just water it. And it will decompose and decrease in size, and that black gold is the final product. This is how Kainalu makes black gold. Our goal is to become a zero waste campus. We’ve been recycling more than six pounds of food waste every week. We hope that Kainalu students will learn to be resourceful and inspire others to reuse and recycle, to help our environment. This is Karen Owens from Kainalu Elementary School, for HIKI NŌ.

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