Worm farmers Martin Bratzel and Bodhi McSweeney of Meander in northern Tasmania now know that a pandemic can significantly boost business.
- Worms convert organic waste into compost
- One worm farmer in northern Tasmania says he’s had to add extra beds to keep up with demand
- Compost worms do not need restocking as they multiply well
Sales from their worm farm “more than doubled” last year, which the pair attribute to people spending more time at home.
“It was quite obviously connected with people … being drawn back into the garden,” Mr Bratzel said.
The gentle art of harvesting worms
Mr Bratzel and Ms McSweeney, who have been farming compost worms for more than 20 years, run the “biggest and only” commercial worm farm in the state.
Their worms live in 10 beds measuring up to 30 metres, eat organic cow manure, and are harvested using their natural aversion to light.
“I really do that carefully because I don’t want to stress them too much.”
Once weighed, the worms are packed into boxes with precise amounts of bedding and moisture that last them up to a month.
“There’s always a little nervousness on my part because … I want them to travel OK,” Mr Bratzel said.
City folk return to nature
Traditionally, boxed worms have left Mr Bratzel and Ms McSweeney’s farm at the rate of about 50 kilograms per month.
But 2020 saw an unprecedented increase in sales through local garden centres, direct pick-up, and particularly online sales.
“We had huge demand over the past eight months or year,” Mr Bratzel said.
Mr Bratzel said most of their customers were city dwellers.
He said since worms usually only needed to be acquired for a household once, their customers had likely never composted before.
Worms, life-support of the world
The recent spike in demand, which led to Mr Bratzel adding two new worm beds, was now starting to “balance itself out”.
But for the couple, the importance of worms — not only for individual gardens but entire ecosystems, including their human inhabitants— is never-ending.
“No life would be possible without worms,” Mr Bratzel said.
“Just like the roots of the tree are needed to support [the tree] … we couldn’t go without the worms.
“I realise I’m a little bit out there, having done it for 20 years but, you know, everyone knows how much love there is between the dog and the owner … and it’s a little bit like that with the worms.”