Students Kayley Pennington and Cheyenne Bolender created a community compost box.

Are you really composting if there aren’t any worms in the mix? Kayley Pennington and Cheyenne Bolender, members of Newsome High’s chapter of Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), are committed to conservation through vermiculture, which involves the controlled growth of worms in a special container.

Their project won them gold at the district competition, and they are in need of community support as they have their sights set on not only the states this month, but the nationals as well.

They crafted a special box made of chicken feed bags and pallets donated from the Crossroads Ace Hardware that houses the worms with a mix of dirt and plant waste. It is at the back entrance of FishHawk Fellowship Church closest to the entrance of The Preserve at FishHawk Ranch. Pennington and Bolender invite the community to add their plant waste to the mix.

“There’s directions with a log for people to sign, and we have gloves and tools for you to turn and mix your waste into the compost. We ask that people sign their name and date on the log located on site as well,” Pennington said.

Just remember, no meat, dairy or citrus should go into the mixture, as these are too hard for the worms to digest.

The girls are passionate about how even individuals can make a difference.

Bolender explained, “Vermiculture helps tackle food waste. It reduces food waste that gets dumped into landfills and creates methane gas. The worms also excrete castings, which make a super-rich fertilizer.”

Did you know that food waste costs the U.S. approximately $160 billion a year? It also affects our community by using up large amounts of energy, land, fertilizer, chemicals and freshwater.

They hope that through the community adding their scraps they can create a project which is self-sustaining. It will not only help save the world, it will make fertilizer and nutrient-rich “worm tea” that drains from the bottom available to local backyard gardeners.

For more information, visit their Facebook site: https://www.facebook.com/foodwaste.matters.1.

The box is located at the rear of the property of FishHawk Fellowship Church at 15326 Fishhawk Blvd. in Lithia and is most easily accessed from Osprey Ridge Dr.