** The Walking Windrow (Follow-Along) Project **
Join Me For a Wild (and Wintry) Worm Composting Adventure!
The “In a Nutshell” Summary…
At the end of August (2018), I started what has (quickly) become my biggest, most exciting, most important (by far) vermicomposting project to date. I knew early on that it somehow “needed” to be turned into an educational opportunity, so I made sure to document it every step of the way. What emerged 3 months later was the “Walking Windrow (Follow-Along) Project”.
The goals for the project are ambitious. The opportunities for learning and inspiration are many – and they extend far beyond anything else I’ve done before. I would love to have as many fellow “worm-heads” join me on this journey as possible.
For a period of time I’m offering steep discounts on the introductory price in an effort to help make that happen. If you are already excited to get involved and don’t need to read any further, feel free to >> CLICK HERE << and you’ll be taken down to the coupon section.
The Embarassing “Failure” That Started It All
Back in the spring (2018) I decided to take the season off from my “real world” vermicomposting business so that I could put all of my focus on my educational projects (which have always been my first love). I launched a fundraiser to help make it happen.
It failed. Miserably.
I was left wondering what on earth I was going to do. Not only had I not gotten anywhere near my fundraising goal, but by that point I had basically missed the “prime” spring worm selling season.
I was devastated – and utterly unsure if I even had a future in worm composting.
But, I knew I couldn’t just sit around feeling sorry for myself. I needed to do something – and FAST!
On a whim, I decided to post an ad for gardening services on a local classified ad site. I was very pessimistic about getting any responses, let alone having it lead to anything of significance, but all it cost was a few minutes of my (uncomfortably-abundant) time.
They Say When One Door Closes Another Opens…
Almost immediately, things started turning around – and “weird” stuff started happening. Much to my surprise, I ended up with a lot of replies to my ad and I had gardening gigs lined up within a few days.
I was also surprised to discover how much I really loved the work! Getting outside, connecting with people and helping them transform their property in a positive way…and then actually getting paid for it (lol), felt deeply satisfying. Exactly what I needed at the time!
Around the same time, a fluke trip down a local side-road took me past a horse boarding stable a mere 10 minutes from my house. I looked them up online when I got home, found their Facebook page, and sent them a quick note asking if they might have some manure they’d be willing to give-away (once again – there was nothing to lose by trying).
They got back to me. Really quickly! Sure, I could have manure – as much I wanted, any time I wanted it (heap is located outside of their property line)!
And did I mention the heap even had a resident population of Red Worms? 😉
[Up to that point, I’d had to contend with long driving distances and very strict pick-up schedules for my worm-rich manure supply]
Fast forward to early July and…
The Mother of All Connections!
By the time July rolled around, I felt really pleased with all the enjoyable work I had been able to get in and the additional income I had earned…ALL simply because I put my reservations aside and posted that innocent little classified ad.
But I’m not gonna lie…I was starting to feel somewhat burned out. All the e-mail exchanges, all the scheduling, loading/unloading…driving all over the place (often for only a few hours of work). It was taking a toll, and there was no real sense of it leading to anything meaninful in the long-run.
Little did I know that something amazing was just around the corner.
On July 5th I received an innocent email asking if I might be interested in 10-15 hours of work per week. No other details shared.
I almost didn’t reply (and shudder every time I think about it)…but the idea of actually being in one spot for more than a few hours seemed like an “upgrade” so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to find out more.
Within a few more back and forths I had discovered: 1) it was on a 100 acre country property (my favorite kind of work), 2) the property was only 15 minutes away, and 3) they were literally just around the corner from my new manure source (manure pick-ups on my way home from work sounded great to me!).
Of course, these little “bonuses” paled in comparison to what was on the way.
“Surely, You Can’t Be Serious?!!”
My first day on the “job” I was feeling pretty apprehensive, and unsure about the whole thing. I wasn’t even sure what type of work they wanted me to do.
ALL of that melted away literally within seconds of starting to talk with the property owner, when I arrived first thing in the morning.
He asked me how the classified ad had been working out for me. I said it had been great so far, and that I was enjoying the work, but that my “real” business was actually composting-related.
That seemed to catch his attention, and he explained that he too was really interested in composting. He had been testing out worm composting in particular, but had some challenges with keeping his population alive during the winter.
The coversation that proceeded from there completely blew my mind…
Within a few minutes (after I had offered some suggestions for keeping a population going through the winter) he had literally: 1) told me I could borrow his pick-up truck for manure runs (I had a small station wagon), 2) offered to let me set up projects there on the property (“lots of space!!”), and 3) even said I could help myself to the wood chips he had heaped up in various spots (dropped off by a local tree company). All “perks” of working there, he said.
I did my very best to pick my jaw up off the ground and continue the conversation in coherent English, but it wasn’t easy, that’s for sure. Needless to say, the rest of my actual “work day” I felt pretty high on life.
It was really starting to feel like things were turning around!
I Was Working Hard, and Hatching Plans.
For the better part of the next two months I continued to work at the country property – and had a blast! Even the “normal work” included things like tending to the veggie garden, overhauling compost heaps, and doing lots of wood chip runs with an all-terrain vehicle. It was also during this time that I pitched the idea of setting up a large-scale vermicomposting bed somewhere on the property. It was clear the owner had an interest in having access to lots of worm castings. And – as he had pointed out – there was “lots of space”.
I got an enthusiastic “green light”, and almost immediately began scouting out potential project sites.
After one promising spot turned out to be a dud, I found the “perfect” location. It was very well-sheltered, a little off the beaten path (but still close to the laneway), and totally overgrown (i.e. not being used in the slightest).
I felt like a vermicomposting pioneer!
And once again, the property owner offered me an encouraging “thumbs up”!! (I’ve told him multiple times by now that he’s basically the most agreeable human on the planet – lol)
What to Do? … What to Do?!!
I felt like a kid in a giant candy story. Even just trying to come up with an initial gameplan felt overwhelming.
I’m pretty proud of what I’ve accomplished in urban and suburban backyards over the years – but let’s face it…
100 Acres + Full access to Amazing Resources = A Different Kettle of Fish (Can of Worms? lol)
I knew it had to be something pretty epic. I knew it should get started sooner rather than later (so there would be a good supply of castings by early in 2019 growing season)…which also meant that it needed to be something that could continue chugging along during the cold months ahead.
So what did I come up with? …Well, obviously a walking windrow! But not just any old walking windrow.
A walking windrow…in a trench…with a deep “false bottom” of wood chips.
Which may lead some people to ask…
What is a “Walking Windrow” and Why is it in a Trench?
A typical windrow is just an extended, raised ridge of organic materials set up for various types of composting and worm farming. It’s a nice easy, low-tech approach that can work quite well in outdoor locations. A “walking windrow” is simply a windrow that is built up gradually over time (instead of all at once).
You start with a basic “heap” or small windrow, and then just keep adding new materials to one side. The reason it can be particularly effective for worm composting is that it acts as a “continuous flow” system, allowing you to separate most of the worms from the finished vermicompost. Fresher “food materials” are added periodically to the leading edge (or “wedge”) to help draw the worms in that direction.
Eventually – once you have “primed the pump”, so to speak – you end up far enough along that the material you started with is ready to harvest. With the added bonus of being able to continue harvesting on a fairly regular basis (unlike a “batch” system, where everything is basically ready all at once, and then you have to wait for another full composting cycle).
As for the trench…
I’ve worked with – and have had great success with – vermicomposting trenches for many years now. It is hard to beat them for protecting a worm bed from temperature extremes and dry conditions.
Knowing this bed would (ideally) need to stay quite active during the winter, I figured I should give the windrow as much protection as I possibly could. That being said, one of the “disadvantages” of trenches is that they don’t usually allow a lot of air flow down in the lower reaches – so it can take a while before you end up with nice finished compost.
This trench is different!
For the first time ever, I’m creating a “walking trench” (only makes sense, right?) – an open ended trench that provides the bed with much greater air circulation. I’ve even taken it a step further by including the thick false bottom of coarse wood chips (which should also help with air circulation and moisture control).
My Progress So Far
Phase I of the project has focused primarily on digging a decent-sized trench, getting the intial worm habitat zone established and ‘winter-ready’, starting the leading edge…and resource gathering…lots and LOTS of resource gathering (“hoarding” might be a better term)! lol
We’ve actually had quite a bit of cold, snowy weather already, and the system has continued to perform beautifully. The trench is as big as I’m going to make it until sometime next spring, and all my winter resource heaps are well-stocked and ready for use.
The slide show below should give you some sense for how things have developed over the first 3 months (and some of the interesting activities and happenings along the way).
WARNING: “Phase I” videos were all live-action, in the moment, shot with a (Samsung) phone held in my hand. There are no cinematic montages, no gorgeous pan-out aerials shot from a drone. There is no warm, inspiring theme music playing in the background.
They are raw. They are real. And I actually like them for that exact reason – since they provide a clear picture (figuratively more than literally – haha) of what was happening each day, how I was feeling etc.
That being said…
Moving forward, I am continuing to shoot these videos since I feel they are important to have – but I will be creating more polished summary videos using photos/text and narration to post in the member’s area.
Where Are We Headed From Here?
Phase II will be the colder months of winter and early spring – and a BIG focus will be on bed maintenance and worm population development. I want to keep the system nice and warm all winter long, if I can (pretty optimistic about my chances). January and February will be the real test!
This is also an important education and experimental phase. Since I won’t need to spend much time actually working on the bed, I can “play” a little bit – testing out different food mixes, oxygenation and heating strategies, among other things (YOUR ideas will definitely help me to decide as well) – and spend more time putting together educational resources and interacting with members.
Phase III and Beyond – the aim is to have plenty of vermicompost ready for the start of spring growing season (mid to late May). It will likely also be an important (and very busy) time for my vermicomposting business, so worm-harvesting and other entrepreneurial topics will likely be explored during this period as well.
It’s hard to say where things will go from there (and as I explain further down, it’s important to realize that anything can happen along the way), but it would be great if we also have the opportunity to see how the bed performs during the hotter months of summer!
Some Potenial Burning Questions Answered
“This Started WAY Back in August. I Feel Like I’ve Missed a Lot of It Already! Am I Too Late?”
I purposely didn’t launch the follow-along until the project was well-established because: 1) I wanted to make sure it had a very strong start and the future prospects looked promising, 2) I wanted to make sure there would be plenty of content available for members when they joined, 3) A lot of the initial work was fairly repetitive and monotonous (I loved it – but it may have seemed a wee bit dull to anyone following along)! This way you can make your way through the updates as quickly (or slowly) as you like.
Most of the “fun stuff” is on the way!
While I DO think there is a certain thrill in actually being there as the project develops – even if you only got involved as it was winding down, you would still be able to benefit a great deal from it (over time it will likely evolve from a “follow-along” into more of a course).
On that note, it might be good to address…
“How Long Does This ‘Follow-Along’ Run For (and How Long Will I Have Access to the Content)?”
That’s an excellent question, but unfortunately a very difficult one to give a concrete answer for. Best case scenario, I would love to be able to “walk” all of you through 4 seasons of working with a walking windrow. This would allow me to explore most the challenges (and of course benefits) that outdoor vermicomposting has to offer. Bare minimum, I am hoping to at least get through the winter and to the point when I could attempt the first harvest.
But anything can happen – especially when you are working on a property you don’t own!
As just one basic example of what can “go wrong” – the project nearly fell off the rails within the first few weeks when my trusty VW Jetta station wagon (aka “surburban pickup truck” lol) broke down, and finally reached the point of being beyond (reasonable) repair.
Thankfully, my dear old dad instantly stepped up and insisted that I basically keep his vehicle for as long as I needed it (he is 80 now, and doesn’t need to do much driving). As a sidenote, the project is actually dedicated to him for all the help he has provided over the years.
It was these sorts of wildcard events weighing on my mind that helped me decide to wait several months to get the follow-along launched. When it comes down to it, even if I had to completely stop (and walk away from) the project today, there is enough there to make it a valuable educational resource.
As always, if anything happens along the way, I will simply switch gears and adjust the overall gameplan.
As far as member access goes – you have permanent access to everything shared! 😎
“I Live in a House / Townhouse / Condo / Apartment / Doghouse…”
Is that an actual question? 😉
Ok – naturally, some people will see that I’m working on a 100 acre property with (seemingly) limitless resources, engaged in various crazy feats of manual labor…and wonder how on earth any of this applies to them.
Well, for starters, it’s important to remember that I myself have been operating on a small suburban property – engaged in, albeit scale-down versions of, pretty much the same sort of thing. If you have a little piece of land there is a lot you can do! If you don’t have your own land, you may want to approach friends or family members, or even a local community garden (etc etc etc) about trying something on their land (similar to my own situation). Even a little bit of networking can go a long way!
Aside from that, when it comes down to it, this is a very valuable learning opportunity regardless of what scale you are operating on and what resources you have available to you. I’ve always emphasized the importance of focusing more on the vermicomposting principles behind the madness, than on the exact step by step methods being shared.
And, when it comes down to it…call me biased, but I just think it’s fun watching something exciting (worm-related) unfold.
It’s like reality TV for worm-heads! 😉
This a Very Inspired Project…But it Really Needs Your Help!
For more than a decade now I’ve worked hard to “fund” my efforts as a vermicomposting educator. It’s been incredibly challenging, especially trying to find the balance between the “work” part (eg. operating a vermicomposting business) and the “education” part. I’ve gone down a lot of dead end paths, made a LOT of mistakes…and have really worn myself down in the process.
This project couldn’t have landed on my plate at a more “perfect” time. At a time when I truly questioned whether or not I really had anything more to offer the vermicomposting world.
Right from the start, it felt like there was “magic” in the air. Everything just seemed to flow effortlessly, and I’ve never been so focused on and excited a project in my life. Even “set-backs” just seemed to lead to bigger and better things.
But there’s only so far enthusiam and “meant to be” sentiments can take you – and when it comes down to it, what really excited me most about the project, and kept me working so hard on it during the first few months was the future promise of being able to share it with all of you!
If you’ve followed and enjoyed my work at all over the years, I can guarantee that THIS is the project you don’t want to miss!
And even if the focus isn’t quite what you are looking for, please be assured that your generous contribution will also help with the future development of the Red Worm Composting website (and related projects)!
So, How Much Does it Cost?
I’ll admit that coming up with an introductory price was quite challenging. In the past I have tried to price my information products super-low in an effort to get more people interested and on-board. The sad irony is that this usually didn’t really lead to more sales, or help me “fund” my work very effectively in the long-run.
This project is very different. An immense amount of blood, sweat and tears…and TIME has been (happily) poured into it already – and even more will be in the months ahead. Like I said, this is definitely the biggest, most important vermicomposting project I’ve taken on, ever.
So if anything should be priced a little higher, this is it.
All that being said – pretty well the MOST IMPORTANT initial goal here is to get a lot of people involved. A big, exciting project shared with only a small handful of people just isn’t the same.
The introductory price I decided on is $37 – but the good news is that there will be great discounts during the initial launch period to help reward the “early adopters” and build up a thriving member community (and likely some “secret” coupon codes floating around even later!
Speaking of members…
Here’s What Members Get Access to…
The Walking Windrow Journal
I’ve literally been keeping a journal for all my days at the project site (and any other activities relating to the project) – and I’ve shared an enhanced version of it, including plenty of images in the member’s area.
WWP Private Facebook Discussion Group
This resource is serving as a second member’s area – not only fantastic for member interaction and questions, but also a great way to share all the Phase I (live action) videos – and likely plenty of other updates over time.
WWP Welcome Guide
This guide provides new members with all the important preliminary info they need to get started, along with a more in-depth backstory about how the project came to be and the rationale behind key decisions.
WWP Updates & Video Summary Guide
Knowing people would be getting involved 3 or more months in, it was important to provide members with easy ways to get caught up with project happenings as quickly as possible.
WWP E-mail List
No more dealing with different trays, or dealing with time-consuming and messy “dump and sort” operations. Add wastes up top, then harvest worm castings from the bottom (once ready).
ALL Future Updates and Add-Ons
This is an ongoing project and most of the good stuff is yet to come. All members get access to everything!
…And Just Some of the Topics We’ll Be Exploring
Cold (and Hot) Weather Vermicomposting
Outdoor vermicomposting presents its own set of challenges – not the least of which relates to fluctuating temperatures from season to season.
Resource Gathering & Management
It’s amazing the resources available to us vermicomposters – often right under our noses, and free for the taking!
Large-scale Castings Production/Harvesting
One of the major goals of the project is to produce large quantities of quality worm castings for the property owner in time for spring growing season.
Worm "Foods" & Feeding
I’ll be using/testing a wide range of different food materials in this bed. It will be interesting to see how they compare.
I will be harvesting lots of worms from this bed for my own vermicomposting business, so nurturing the ‘worm herd’ will be an important part of the process as well.
Amazing things can happen when you team up with others who have similar interests/vision, and complimentary resources!
What Others Are Saying About the WWP…
…and Have Said About My Work & the RWC Website in the Past
Thanks for all that you do, and all that you have done!” ~ Chad Sentman
Read to Join Us? Enjoy a Big Discount!
As mentioned above, my introductory price is $37 (USD)
But, I always want to reward the “early adopters” of anything I release, so I’ve decided to offer 20-50% discounts for the first stretch of the launch period (the discount available will depend on when you join).
That being said…
Something I’ve noticed over the years is that some people really want to contribute more – which they can’t do if you don’t give them the opportunity! Initially I decided to give a variety of different discount options – but I think that just made things confusing.
So, you can now choose between full-price and the current available discount (starts at 50% – then 40%, 30%…and so on).
This isn’t some sort of guilt-trip, or reverse psychology marketing voodoo…I would be absolutely thrilled to see a lot of people take advantage of the discounts! I’m simply making the other option available for those who might prefer it!
To take advantage of either of these options just click on the button and you will be taken to the checkout page with the discount (if used) already applied!
IMPORTANT NOTE: There is a completely optional upgrade offer (mentioned below) – an opportunity to pre-order my “Trench Vermicomposting” for a very low price. The discount doesn’t apply to that because that price has already been discounted. If that course is of interest, you will find a box you can tick off on the checkout page.
About The Upgrade Offer
On the checkout page you will see an option to pre-order an upcoming course called “Trench Vermicomposting”. This is the perfect companion to The Walking Windrow Follow-Along, available at a heavily discounted price – BUT there is absolutely no pressure to buy. I just wanted to include it as an add-on for anyone interested in this closely related topic. NOTE: discount codes don’t get applied to upgrade because it has already been discounted.
As a “funny” sidenote – “Trench Vermicomposting” was originally intended as the main offering, with some sort of coverage of the Walking Windrow Project as an add-on. But once I got going with WWP, I just knew that was what I needed to put all my focus on – and I’m so glad I did. 😎
I’ve Been Joking With Friends…
This new project has me feeling like I’m going through a “Jerry Maguire phase”. That’s not to imply that I’ve been anything like a slimy, low-morals sports agent in years past…but I’ve definitely made a LOT of mistakes over the years. And now, finally, it feels like I have the prime opportunity to make a real “comeback”, and an even BIGGER positive contribution to the worm composting world (and beyond) in the years ahead!
I’m ALL in. I’m inspired and on fire. There’s NO turning back!
And the only thing left to say is…
[Hopefully NOT Just Dorothy and “Flipper”! lol 😉 ]
Thank-You for Your Support!