Wednesday, August 12, 2009

DDP has squirmy pals in basement

DDP academic advisor Chrisi Kincaid gets her hands dirty Wednesday in the basement of Van Doren Hall.

The latest arrivals at WSU’s Van Doren Hall are being kept in the dark and fed organic material.

The worms live in a small blue plastic bin, chomping on food waste to create compost. Their new assignments came after state budget cuts forced WSU-Pullman custodians to stop emptying trash cans in offices. “When we heard about the reductions in trash service, we thought we’d try not to throw out so much,” said Chrisi Kincaid, an academic advisor for Distance Degree Programs, which shares Van Doren with WSU’s conference management unit.
More... Kincaid and DDP research analyst Korolyn Pogue started the project Tuesday. “Since we’re taking our garbage into the hall, we can use this as an opportunity to recycle,” Pogue said. “And maybe next year when people go fishing, they’ll be able to get their worms here.”

Kincaid and Pogue are starting small, with a few banana peels and about 15 worms. “They are regular old garden worms,” Kincaid said. “They came from my compost pile.” Next up is getting some red wigglers, known for being both voracious and lusty.
“If you get half a cup of red wigglers,” Kincaid said, “they’ll double in numbers in a few weeks. They work much faster. They reproduce a lot faster.”

WSU soils scientist Joan Davenport said she hadn’t heard of other offices using mini-compost bins. “But I think it is a perfect idea,” said Davenport, who has a compost pile at home. “Why shouldn’t WSU, a land-grant university, be a forerunner in this?”

The benefits are personal as well as environmental. “I can take a break and do a little organic farming right here in Van Doren,” said Kincaid, who promised the bin would be odorless.

“I think it will be fun,” Pogue said. “We’ll have a little entertainment down here in the basement.”

That kind of entertainment can stay in the basement, said conference organizer Joy Thompson, who works on the second floor. “I’m not a big fan of worms,” she said. “They’re slimy and gross. I’ll pretend they’re not there.”

Story and photos by Richard H. Miller/CDPE

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