Hard Working Worms at Foster

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Worms are busy creatures; they’re constantly working to decompose decaying organic matter. A worm decomposes things by eating it and digesting it into castings (the nerdy term for worm poop) that then incorporates into the soil. The type of decaying matter that worms like the most are soft fruits such as melons, apples, cucumbers and bananas. Red wigglers, specifically, will eat half of their weight in food a day! Can you imagine eating 20-80 pounds of food a day?

Last month, I made a worm bin to leave in the shed at Foster and recruited a teacher to donate her kitchen scraps to the bin. The creatures have been thriving so well since! So today was a great day to take out the bin and show the kids what’s going on inside. Ranger Savannah and I tag teamed to teach the kids about what worms eat and how they digest it. Then the kids had a chance to watch the red wigglers dance and scoot around on the table. Identifying the head and tail was a challenge; usually worms only wriggle forward, looking for their next meal or adventure. But as we watched the worms, we also observed their tail twitching like a cat’s. It was all very confusing but fascinating, too. Additionally, we watched the segments (or setae) on the worm’s body move one at a time, kind of like a slinky. Some kids found worm eggs and tiny white squiggly baby worms. “They’re so cute!” the kids exclaimed.

This lesson is one of the kids’ favorites so they’re always sad to say goodbye to the worms. “‘Til next time, wormies! Thanks for taking care of the earth!”

Worms are busy creatures; they’re constantly working to decompose decaying organic matter. A worm decomposes things by eating it and digesting it into castings (the nerdy term for worm poop) that then incorporates into the soil. The type of decaying matter that worms like the most are soft fruits such as melons, apples, cucumbers and bananas. Red wigglers, specifically, will eat half of their weight in food a day! Can you imagine eating 20-80 pounds of food a day?

Last month, I made a worm bin to leave in the shed at Foster and recruited a teacher to donate her kitchen scraps to the bin. The creatures have been thriving so well since! So today was a great day to take out the bin and show the kids what’s going on inside. Ranger Savannah and I tag teamed to teach the kids about what worms eat and how they digest it. Then the kids had a chance to watch the red wigglers dance and scoot around on the table. Identifying the head and tail was a challenge; usually worms only wriggle forward, looking for their next meal or adventure. But as we watched the worms, we also observed their tail twitching like a cat’s. It was all very confusing but fascinating, too. Additionally, we watched the segments (or setae) on the worm’s body move one at a time, kind of like a slinky. Some kids found worm eggs and tiny white squiggly baby worms. “They’re so cute!” the kids exclaimed.

This lesson is one of the kids’ favorites so they’re always sad to say goodbye to the worms. “‘Til next time, wormies! Thanks for taking care of the earth!”

Hope Cox

Hope is an urban farmer, garden educator and foodie transplanted from Tennessee to SoCal in 2014. She hopes to move out of the big city one day to pursue the life of a sustainable farmer; but in the meantime loves to teach elementary kids about how food is grown, nutritious and tasty recipes and connecting with nature.

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