Vermicast is the end product of the breakdown of organic matter by earthworms and Roxanne Doerksen, owner of T.R.A.D. Worm Industries decided to make a business out of it. Roxanne grew up a farm girl and after her daughter was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder she decided to research a more natural alternative to fertilizer and T.R.A.D. industries was started. Worm castings help retain soil moisture, increase plant yield, as well as provide protective microbes to the soil making them a great fertilizer.
“This idea is so relevant to where we are in our world, in less than thirty years we will struggle with where to put all of our garbage,” says Roxanne. With currently over one million worms on her farm, they go through five thousand pounds of garbage a week during their feeding periods. Organic garbage is either dropped off or picked up from local companies and then put through an industrial shredder where it is processed down to a soup consistency. After that, it is measured, weighed, and put into beds full of worms where brown organics, such as egg cartons and newspapers, are added. Mix it up, put a lid on it and leave it for two weeks and a “superfood” fertilizer is created which is water-soluble, nutrient-rich and organic.
What makes T.R.A.D. Worm Industries different from other companies is that they are a low or no consumer company. “Everything we use is slated for the garbage or to be de-commissioned otherwise. We take it, fix it, modify it and use it for our purposes,” explains Roxanne. They have had incredible success with people donating items such as chemical totes, which they decontaminate and modify to use as worm beds. The packages that the castings are sold in are made by local seamstresses from old organic cotton bed sheets which can be added to whatever you are putting your castings on and will break down into the soil. They are also unique in their ability to fill large scale orders, they can bring their plant food to landscapers and reclamation contractors affordably.
T.R.A.D. Worm Industries have some innovative projects in the works for the near future including a larger transportable module that is run by a solar-powered generator. These will produce a zero-carbon footprint and can be introduced to places that may not have the infrastructure in place so they can harvest their own soil amendments right on site. They also produce worm casting tea which can be sprayed right onto your outdoor or indoor plants to ward off pests such as aphids without using any chemicals. All of this has made T.R.A.D. Worm Industries an entrepreneurial success story!
T.R.A.D. Worm Industries is just one example of a company that has received entrepreneurial coaching through the APEX Incubator of Southeastern Alberta. To see more entrepreneurial success stories visit www.apexalberta.ca. APEX Alberta is a collaborative initiative between three core service providers: Community Futures Entre-Corp, Medicine Hat College and Alberta Innovates.