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'Worm whisperer': USU student uses earthworms to turn food waste to fertilizer

While most people go to local restaurants for the food and atmosphere, Utah State University student Scott Kent goes to collect buckets of food waste to feed his earthworms.

Kent’s office, next door to Mountain Toppers Inc. in Hyde Park, is full of shelves stacked high with bins of African Nightcrawlers. He ordered the worms specially online and has to keep the office at a certain temperature in order to keep them comfortable.

Kent, a self-proclaimed “worm whisperer,” is the founder of One World Ecology, a business that collects food waste, composts it, then feeds it to earthworms in order to create worm castings.

“Worm castings are among nature’s most archaic ways to create healthy soil ecosystems. Worm Castings contain bacteria that increase available nutrient levels, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, and other bacterias that promote plant growth,” stated a press release distributed by One World Ecology.

Kent sells the castings his worms make to greenhouses and gardeners all over Cache Valley, who are looking to utilize the benefits of what is essentially worm poop.

“The worms are able to provide everything the plant needs,” Kent said.

According to the press release, as of this month Kent has collected over 1,000 gallons of food waste from companies such as Stacked, Ah-Sigh-Ee, The Crepery, and The Waffle Iron. This food waste that would’ve gone to a landfill is instead used to feed his earthworms.

“When Scott first approached us, as a company, we wanted to be as earth conscious as possible,” Gabriella Cale, co-founder of Ah-Sigh-Ee, wrote in an email to The Herald Journal. “Whether that was using green garbage bags, or recycling any and all materials we could, this was an obvious choice for us to participate with Scott.”

According to Cale, working with Kent has also helped Ah-Sigh-Ee to relate with and appeal to their more sustainability-focused customers.

“He not only has brought awareness to the food waste the US discards, to us, but our customers as well,” Cale said. “People love to ask why and how we recycle our waste. It has also allowed a lot of our customer base to relate with us as well. Many of our patrons compost themselves, or love the idea, so it has brought our little ‘community’ closer.”

Although One World Ecology currently only creates and collects worm castings, Kent has big dreams for the company’s future.

“I want to do more than just worms,” Kent said. “The company is Called One World Ecology … ecology is the study of organisms and relationships, and one world is like we are all just one world … we’re all part of this ecology, we need to play our part.”

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