Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Could wheelie bin worm farms solve the UK's soil crisis?

Britain's intensive farming industry has taken its toll on the fertile ground - with a looming deadline to save our soil.

As the clock ticks, one Nottingham social enterprise has harnessed the power of worm poo to attempt to reverse the damaging trend.

Its founder, Anna de le Vega, explained to ITV News how her sustainable solution - and "Deliverpoo" business model - can be achieved in any apartment, one worm at a time.

Wheelie-bin workshops

Anna has been teaching people how to convert their wheelie bins into worm farms.

Urban Worm founder Anna runs workshops at her site in the Midlands to teach households to make use of their scrap with her wheelie-bin wormeries.

After working with farming communities in Cuba, she found that worms are expert eaters who can turn organic waste into nutritious manure.

But these are not your average earthworms.

Anna said: "You can feed them your vegetable scraps, kitchen scraps, your bread, pasta - particularly food that you can't usually compost and put in a composting bin.

"Worms are really good at managing waste, even dog waste," she added.

The specialist tiger worms munch down on organic waste, eating up to their body weight a day to produce highly concentrated fertiliser.

Anna told ITV News: "Worm composting is a lot faster than hot composting and you can do it in a very small space in the city.

"People don't always have the space to deal with our organic waste, so this is a sustainable solution if you don't have a garden, you can do it in an apartment," she added.

Launching 'DeliverPoo'

Anna feeds her worms manure from a local horse rescue but has found they eat a variety of organic waste.

The idea has been so popular Anna has even started a 'DeliverPoo' service with the help of Moo Haven Horse Rescue to help feed hungry worms.

As well as keeping her business busy, the mini beasts have helped customers get back into gardening.

And Anna's love of all things manure has spread to local businesses.

Pulp Friction co-founder Jill Carter helps run a canteen out of Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Centre, who for the past two years have sent leftover scraps to the wormeries they keep on-site.

The group has started to grow the fruits and vegetables which they serve at their canteen and cafe.

Ms Carter said: "We've got lettuce, we've got spinach and we've got radish, which is really easy to grow and we'll be using it in our canteen.

"It's a nice little circular thing, " she added.

Pulp Friction support people with learning difficulties through community projects and work and most have warmed to having the worms around.

One member Joey Dodds said: "We're not throwing food waste in the bin at the end of the day and it's not being put in landfill of anything - it's getting used and broken down and so it's better for the

40 year warning

The UK's fertile topsoil has depleted because of intensive farming, Anna believes worms are the solution.

Speaking in 2017, the Environment Secretary Michael Gove revealed the UK is 30 to 40 years away from fertile topsoil depletion because of intensive farming.

Anna warned: "We're facing natural resource scarcity, top soil depletion, climate change and by composting at home and particularly worm composting."

However, Anna's solution has not been popular with everyone, she admitted.

"I've had a lot of support off the community, but I have had a few complaints - a few vegans who think perhaps I'm keeping my worms in captivity," she says.

"But (the) worms are very happy. They thrive in organic waste so we're keeping the worms alive, It's conservation."