Sam Hammer is breeding worms in plastic flip crates, feeding them food scraps from his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He maintains two large colonies of worms that digest about a liter of organic kitchen waste every day.
” I “feed” each bin every three days or so. When I put in scraps I spend some time mixing the soil, piling it up to one side, and exchanging the contents among the bins. One of the bins produces our compost tea, which is the most amazing fertilizer I can imagine. Instead of altering the soil chemistry it improves the soil by adding nutrients and beneficial bacteria.
Speaking of bacteria, you could say we’re raising worms, but in a sense the worms are vehicles for their symbiotic gut bacteria. So look at it this way. We’re raising beneficial bacteria in a passive, energy and emission-free, odorless, sustainable environment.”
“As in all natural ecosystems, the steady breakdown of nutrients produces carbon dioxide, which is re-absorbed by plants as the precursor molecule of photosynthesis. The process of nutrient cycling occurs at both macroscopic and microscopic scales. Maintaining the balance of this cycle is an important goal of organic farming that can be practiced at any level from the home garden to the community plot, to the commercial farm.”
Sam Hammer is a tenured professor at Boston University, where he teaches science to non- science majors. I also teach at the Boston Architectural College, where he integrates concepts of science, design, and sustainability. Sam Hammer has been awarded sabbatical leave for 2012-2013, during which his explicit goal is to bridge the gap between arts and sciences.
Sam Hammer worm art, all images by Sam Hammer.