Lincoln, NE – July 16, 2018 – Cook Grow Sew, LLC announced today that it will receive $199,715 from the Nebraska Environmental Trust for their “Fostering Soil Health through Waste Diversion, Composting, Research, and Education” project run by Big Red Worms. The project is one of 105 receiving $18.3 million in grant awards from the Nebraska Environmental Trust this year.
Big Red Worms, owned by Jeremiah and Kate Picard of Lincoln in 2015, is an innovative business with a range of solutions for some of our greatest environmental threats due to climate change. Kate, 36, of Lincoln, is an educator and leads outreach and education, while Jeremiah, 42, has multitude of talents ranging from software and networking engineer, IT administration, FSMA Food Safety Trainer, market & CSA farmer, and Worm Tzar. Jeremiah’s vision for future agriculture includes a need for diverse ecosystems with the carbon rich soils necessary to maintain a balance of healthy plants and animals, clean water and air, and resilience to ever changing weather systems. The solution, under our feet, soil, has been stripped of life giving biological diversity through chemicals, tillage, heavy equipment and reduced crop rotations.
Big Red Worms has implemented a multifold approach to sustainability for Nebraska’s farmers. Farmers must have a market for their crops, they are directly helping to increase the use of cellulosic products derived from corn and other sustainably grown crops. The process of converting from plastic servingware to compostable items made from Ingeo PLA plastics reduces our dependence on oil and reduces plastic contamination in compost. Big Red Worms is harnessing the power of nature’s most effective plough, the earthworm, in combination with Aerated Static Pile composting to create soil life. Grants from the Environmental Trust and NDEQ in 2015, established the base composting and vermicomposting processes, which are designed modularly to allow for scalability as well as replication of the process to other localities. The food resources diverted from the landfill reduce greenhouse gas emissions by fixing carbon in compost. Applying compost and worm castings to soil increases the water holding, health and resilience of the soils. By working with Lincoln Public Schools students, they have established a positive change in waste management which will carry into future generations.
The funding provided from the Environmental Trust will allow Big Red Worms to expand the population of 5 millions worms, double the food resources diverted from the landfill to nearly 300 tons, extend our food resource diversion to additional Lincoln & Waverly schools, businesses and institutions, as well as add worm wrangling assistants.