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Hangry August 23, 2020 Extremely tiny livestock

In about grade five or six, my son’s class raised mealworms to the beetle stage. They held Field-Day-style races and learned how to feed and care for these very tiny livestock. According to Cindy Quarters, “They will eat oatmeal, cornmeal and other grains crushed into meal such as wheat and milo. In the wild, they eat fungus, seeds and decaying plants, but captive mealworms often eat dog or cat food, old cereal, chicken food, birdseed, flour, fruits and vegetables.”

She explains, “Mealworms are often raised as pet food for lizards, fish and birds. Many fisherman also admire these little wigglers for their lasting power when dangled in the water on the end of a hook. It’s not unusual for people to raise their own mealworms for these reasons, and sometimes it’s only then that people realize that a mealworm isn’t the final stage of an insect, it’s just one stage of a darkling beetle’s development.”

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that we can get mealworms, in bulk, right here in River City. Right here! Skeena Valley Worm Farm recommends a serving size of 10 worms per chicken or other poultry bird, with the worms having a protein content of 18-20 per cent. Skeena Valley Worm Farm advises about their other products, “Red Wigglers are particularly good for your compost or home compost system. If you want worms for your garden, you would want dew worms or european nightcrawlers.”

Skeena Valley Worm Farm posts useful, informative articles on these helpful worms, such as this one on vermicomposting; “Vermicomposting, or worm composting, turns kitchen scraps and other green waste into a rich, dark soil that smells like earth and feels like magic. Made of almost pure worm castings, it’s a sort of super compost. Not only is it rich in nutrients but it’s also loaded with the microorganisms that create and maintain healthy soil. Clemson University Extension lists the following benefits of vermicompost in their article on worm composting:

  • provides nutrients to the soil
  • increases the soil’s ability to hold nutrients in a plant-available form
  • improves the soil structure
  • improves the aeration and internal drainage of heavy clay soils
  • increases the water holding ability of sandy soils
  • provides numerous beneficial bacteria.”

Imagine eating fresh-picked radishes and carrots grown in this wonderful nutritious soil! Your microbiome would moan in pleasure.

When I worked at a community centre, we had the day campers create ready-to-use vermicomposting bins, with worms, some soil, and kitchen scraps, and decorated by kids’ drawings of worms. They were displayed at the Farmers Market, were priced at $20 each, and were kind of heavy and bulky, so they didn’t sell like hot-cakes. It was heartening to see the children expertly explain how they worked, so it was fun and educational.

One magical day at the centre, the community gardeners told the children they could pick and eat as many peas as they liked. It was hot and sunny, about 3:30 pm, and we sat in the shade near the worm bins to snack. We fed the shells to the worms, with the littlest children, aged 5 – 8, begging to hold a worm. I would carefully fish one out and put it into their small, cupped hands: “Now be very gentle,” I said and they nodded reverently.

Then the parents started to show up in cars or with buggies and bikes, to take the children home. But for about 20 minutes one hot afternoon, I felt like the Catcher in the Rye, and all was well with the world.


Clemson Cooperative Extension. (2009.) “Worm Composting.” From

Planet Natural on Vermicomposting. (nd.) “Using Worms Add a whole new subculture to composting by enlisting worms — usually red wigglers — to do your dirty work.” From

Quarters, C.  (nd.) “Facts on Mealworms for Kids.” From

Skeena Valley Worm Farm (nd.). From


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