Stacked Tire Worm Farm

Have you ever given a thought to what it must be like to be a child sitting in a dusty drab schoolroom, trying desperately to concentrate, while hunger gnaws continually at your belly. This is the daily reality for many African children, both in remote rural communities and also in the ghastly shack-towns that surround the major cities. Jobs are a rarity, families are under stress and there just is never any money, period! Worst of all, this situation is not going to change anytime soon. Probably not in our lifetime!
Concerned people, both local and outsiders realize that international food aid can only go so far and often dries up, just when it is most needed, as in the current international financial crisis. To survive, the communities have to find a way to help themselves. Intervention at a local level is needed. One solution to the problem is to promote food gardens at the schools themselves – run jointly by the community, the parents , the teachers and mostly by the children themselves. Labor is freely available and skills can be taught, but the problem is that what little money that can be collected must go towards buying tools, seeds and fertilizer. The tools would be unsophisticated and can be donated or borrowed. Some seed would have to be bought, but in part it can be collected from the last crop. Fertilizer is always the main problem. In many areas soils are very impoverished and would yield little.
This is where worm composting can lend a hand. Vermiculture produces high quality organic fertilizer that can be 20 times higher in nutriments than natural soil and brings trace elements and beneficial micro organisms to the roots of the crops, while simultaneously improving the disease resistance and moisture retention of poor soils. Crops grown using vermicompost will be fully organic and organic food is far healthier than any commercially grown products.  Providing fodder for the worms is no problem, there are always organic wastes to be collected, in the form of animal dung, crop trash, paper or fallen leaves. Of the many types of vermiculture systems available , the stacked tire worm farm, which costs nothing to set up, is the most appropriate solution . We have described the setting up and operation of this simple system in detail on our web site at
In brief, all the children need to do, is to collect discarded old tires and stack them upon a drainage board, as described in the article, and then begin feeding in organic waste from the top. The compost worms, will naturally migrate upwards towards the food, leaving their faeces (worm castings) behind them. The vermicompost is harvested by pulling out the lower tire from the bottom. The tire is emptied of compost and then it goes back to the top of the stack again and so on.  The beauty of this system is that it costs nothing to set up and can be replicated many times over, to create multiple sets of individual worm farms to whatever scale is appropriate. All that is needed is a small amount of training and a supply of suitable compost worms – usually eisinia fetida (red wigglers), which can be donated from other schools, already on the programme, or from concerned individuals.
Stacked Tire Worm Composting is an appropriate low tech solution to a widespread Third World problem. It is a technology that does not require constant cash injections and can be fully run by the communities themselves. Besides everything else, the children will have a great deal of fun worm farming and will learn something useful. Best of all they will be doing something positive to improve their own lot, without relying on any handouts. This builds up human dignity. “Give a man a fish and you feed him today , teach him to fish and you feed him always”.
Think about it – maybe there is something you can do to help.

Rebecca R. Ammons

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