Many are quite averse to the sight of earthworms — particularly African night crawlers, perhaps — but these small, slimy creatures are an important part in the process of farming. They take part in vermi composting, a process that results in an excellent organic fertilizer and soil conditioner. There are a number of advantages to using vermi compost compared to normal composting, which is basically taking organic matter (usually green waste such as leaves and food waste) and just letting it sit until it decomposes.

It is in this part of the process where the lowly earthworm shines. In vermi composting, the earthworms go through the waste and consume it to create vermicast, which is, simply put, worm manure. The involvement of the earthworm allows for benefits such as improved soil aeration, better water holding capacity, enhanced germination, plant growth, and crop yield; and improved root growth and structure, among many others. If anything, the earthworm proves that something so small can make a big, positive impact to a vital process.

In Sambali Beach Farm, the vermi compost process is combined with the technology of Biochar in what is called “vermichar”, a process that takes advantage of the benefits of both processes. Vermichar enhances the effects of vermi compost, boosting the quality of the soil and increases crops at both the subsistence and industrial scale. While vermi compost is at work at making organic fertilizer, the added Biochar keeps the nutrients, microbes, and moisture of the soil intact. This allows for potent fertilizer season after season.