How did Auscan Worm Farms begin?
Auscan Worm Farms is a small local business that started as a backyard hobby. After Nevyl retired he was looking for a hobby and stumbled upon composting worms. As he learnt more about the benefits of worm composting and healthy soil microbes, he got excited and had to share this information with the community. He started with a small backyard worm composting bin and used a lawn mower to break down the food. A year later Nevyl met Maighan at the markets and the two of them started to grow the business from a hobby to a farm business with over 1.5 million worms eating local food waste. They also increased their food waste collection from one location to many locations such as shopping centres, hospital and restaurants around town.
Why do you do what you do? What is your mission and vision for the future?
There is so much organic waste going to landfill that is preventable and can be repurposed into useful, beneficial products. Auscan Worm Farms believes it is important to care about the environment and found that they can contribute by composting food waste and compostable containers with their composting worms. They make worm castings, worm tea, compost and potting mix for their community.
Our motto is
SAVING THE WORLD ONE WORM BIN AT A TIME.
Composting organic materials at home and in large-scale facilities is part of a growing trend in Australia to better manage and re-use organic material. How does Auscan Worm Farm fit into Australia’s composting story?
Auscan Worm Farms is a small business that continues to grow each year. They are the only food waste and container waste composting business in the Mackay, Bowen and Whitsundays area. They provide one-on-one education, group workshops and talks to the public on composting. Their goal is to grow larger by processing more organic waste and creating multiple organic bi-products that directly help the farming, gardening and livestock industries.
As a compost collection partner, Auscan Worm Farm is facilitating the waste collection and commercial composting of food waste and BioPak compostable packaging. What happens after the waste is collected? What does the composting process look like at Auscan Worm Farm?
BioPak packaging is pickup from retail locations and transferred to the farm for processing. At the farm the organic waste is mulched and added to a compost pile. After the pile is partially composted it is added to other food waste and fed to the composting worms.
Have you had to adapt your processes to accept BioPak products?
We have adapted by mulching the BioPak products as the first process to manage the waste. This allows the organic waste to compost faster.
How much compost do you produce in a year?
It is difficult to say how much compost we produce because partially composted piles are made into feed for our composting worms.
Do you have to maintain any standards or certifications for the compost?
Since our business is primarily worm composting we do not have specific composting certification as windrow composting requires. We do manage the system to in-line with council regulations by managing factors such as environment, visual appearance, smell and attracting pests.
At the end of the process, what kinds of soil are produced, and where do they end up?
The end products are compost, worm castings and worm tea. All products are produce with local ingredients and are perfect for the garden. The products are used by home gardeners, landscape companies, nurseries, and farmers.
How do you manage the risk of contamination to organic waste? I.e. non-compostable waste making its way into the waste collection bin.
We manage the risks with educating our clients about contamination and using a system to remove contamination.
Who are your major customers?
Shopping centres, hospitals and restaurants.
What are some of the challenges with composting?
Some challenges are managing the amount of plastic from food waste, managing the paper and containers when mulching them and managing the operation during heavy rain and wind storms.
What is the best way for people to advocate for commercial composting in their city?
Asking local retailers to sign up for local composting service in person and on Facebook. Sharing our service with local businesses. Talking to kitchen chefs about the composting service.