The wonderful world of worm work

The Sandpoint Worm Project strives to give local food waste a new life

By Lyndsie Kiebert
Reader Staff

When Paige and Nick Belfry moved to Sandpoint, they asked residents what the community was missing. One suggestion? People in Sandpoint needed something better to do with their plant-based food waste.

Nick and Paige Belfry pick up local food waste from Heart Bowls food truck in Sandpoint. Courtesy photo.

“That sounded right up our alley, so we started pursuing it immediately,” Nick said. “We both have a love for plants and soil.”

The Belfrys got to work on their very own worm farm. Now they’re rolling out the Sandpoint Worm Project with the aim to offer residential curbside pickup of plant-based kitchen waste that will eventually be turned into nutrient-rich compost.

Why worms? As it turns out, worms are the small-but-mighty masterminds behind an incredibly effective process to “making food waste a resource,” as the couple behind We Love Worms, LLC puts it in their Instagram bio.

The Sandpoint Worm Project will collect local food waste and precompost it, breaking it down and giving it “the ideal carbon-to-nitrogen ratio,” according to Paige. Next, the precompost goes to the worms, who “eat up to half of their body weight per day.” 

What becomes of all those wormy meals? Castings.

“Some people call this worm poop, others call this ‘black gold’ because of its high nutrient content and microbial activity,” Paige said. “Worm castings are a superior plant food because nutrients are readily available to plants and are found in the ratios that plants require 

“Nature has a way of doing things right, and we are simply trying to facilitate that process to create a superior product,” she added.

That product could end up playing no small part in improving soil health in the area as it is reapplied on local farms and in the beloved backyard gardens of Sandpoint, limiting the need for chemical fertilizers. The project could also help keep plant-based materials out of landfills, reducing carbon emissions from decomposition and transportation.

Nick haresting local horse manure, one of the ingredients in the Sandpoint Worm Project compost recipe. Courtesy photo.

“We wanted to do something day-to-day that is good for the environment and the community,” Paige said.

Sandpoint food truck Heart Bowls, known for its fresh ingredients and delectable smoothie bowls, is on board with the Sandpoint Worm Project as a part of its pilot program.

“Our mission at Heart Bowls is to increase the peace on the planet, and we believe that we can make huge progress toward a more peaceful planet with our food choices,” said Heart Bowls co-owner Katie Adams. “We feel that it is important to be educated about the entire life cycle of the food we eat, how it is grown, how it is prepared and how it is disposed of.”

Adams said Heart Bowls creates a “serious amount” of plant-based food waste — banana peels, fruit tops, stems and more — and while she’s composted some at her home, she’s excited to share the wealth with the Belfrys.

“We feel that it is important to support other local businesses who align with our vision and mission, and the Sandpoint Worm Project is an awesome fit,” she said.

A sampling of the experimental herd population. Courtesy photo.

More enthusiastic participants are currently needed for the Sandpoint Worm Project’s pilot program. Those who join will receive a waiver of the join fee and a discounted rate for weekly organic waste pickup, as well as a container for waste and educational material detailing what items can and cannot be accepted. 

Interested Sandpoint city residents can email [email protected] to inquire about joining or to ask questions.

Ultimately, the Belfrys hope to provide an earth-friendly service to Sandpoint while also making an impact on a larger scale.

“Did you know that if farms switched to renewable agricultural practices, more than 100% of annual carbon emissions could be sequestered into our soils?” Nick said. “We’re trying to do our own, small part.”

Find the Sandpoint Worm Project on Instragram: 

The pilot program bins for commercial pick up of food waste. Courtesy photo.


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