I'm thrilled to be interviewing Paul Piccirillo today. If you've poked around the web for information on vermicomposting and vermiculture, you've no doubt run across his vast library of helpful content at Worm Farming Revealed.
Pauly's an interesting character. He's a mix of teacher, mentor, author, evangelist, showman, and marketer. And if you handed me 10 blog posts without telling me who wrote them, I would pick out Pauly's work without a doubt, he's that distinct.
But instead of me telling you about him, let's get right to it. Here's Pauly!
Getting To Know Paul Piccirillo
UWC: I feel like we kind of know Pauly “Dr. Worm” Piccirillo from Worm Farming Revealed, but tell us a bit about Paul.
PP: I’m a child of the 70's and was raised in a home of extremely loving and giving parents who opened their home to almost anyone who needed a place to live. It seemed as if few years went by that there wasn’t another family or individual living with us. My parents loved each other more than anything in the world and will be celebrating their 50th anniversary this year. They have a relationship that my wife and I have emulated.
I grew up with one foot in the home and the other in church and learned how to play several instruments, sing, write songs, and performed solo concerts for various engagements. I was heavily involved in school sports and had the energy of a small nuclear warhead. Ha! Those days are gone. 🙂
My wife and I fell in love as teenagers, got married, had 4 beautiful children, and are approaching our silver anniversary in a couple of years. I started construction straight out of high school and later worked in manufacturing alongside my father in the plastics industry.
I’ve long wanted to own my own business and have always been entrepreneurially minded. I owned a roofing company before entering manufacturing, and now I have a small family-owned business cleaning out foreclosed homes (OMG! The goodies that people leave behind!)
UWC: What does your wife think about your worm passion? Or is she as nuts about it as you are? 🙂
PP: Well, let’s say she has a healthy love/hate relationship with it :/ Okay, the “hate” part is exaggerated, but remember, I’m NOT your typical worm farmer. I live, breathe, talk, sleep, dream, eat, & poop worms. Alright!…another exaggeration 😉
My wife Joanna can even hear me THINK about worms. If you know that look your spouse gives you when you have a blank look on your face and you’re staring at your dinner plate…you might be a worm farmer! HA! That’s every single day.
Because I’m not “typical”, I’m always thinking of new ideas to help teach, inspire, & empower other people to worm farm. This means that Jo bears the brunt of every jot & tittle, picture, idea, etc. AND she’s my go/no-go filter. So, please understand, Jo has her own love affair with the benefits of worm farming, PLUS mine & mine & mine.
As a matter of fact, she thought of a brilliant way to incorporate the use of castings as a beneficial, homemade face mask and it really works too. So who’s the crazy one now? 😉 Jo may not live & breathe worm farming, but she does where it on her sleeve…I mean face.
UWC: She doesn’t happen to be your videographer does she?
PP: Yes she is, and so is everyone else in the family. Let’s just say, when I hand them the cell phone, they know it’s NOT because grandma and grandpa want to sing happy birthday to them.
UWC: How did you get interested in vermiculture and vermicomposting?
PP: Growing up in the 80’s our family had purchased 3 acres in the country to build our future home. A couple of years before the house was built my father and uncle wanted to farm a 1 acre portion of the lot to grow everything under the sun. I helped work the 1 acre garden and enjoyed eating of the fruits of our labor. That’s when my gardening roots began.
High school, work, and eventually the married life left me uprooted and out of touch from my gardening experiences. One day I had a talk with my wife about those experiences and she said let’s grow some tomatoes. Fast forward 1, 2, & 3 years later, I was growing things but not like we used to. I used the chemical fertilizers like I was supposed to and kept getting unfavorable results. What’s more? I knew in my gut that the chemicals weren’t good for us either.
After doing some research, I stumbled onto composting with worms and using worm castings. I had no idea the kind of ride I was in for, but to me, it made TOTAL sense. I bought some worms and failed in culturing them. I never quit just because I fail the first time, so I ordered another pound of red wigglers.
The next gardening year would be the year my life would take a sharp turn in a direction that would change the course of my family, friends and readers lives forever. Full Bio
UWC: You inject some serious passion into your writing. Is this a reflection of your enthusiasm for vermicomposting and worm castings? Or is it just who you are?
PP: When I set my mind to do something I don’t quit until I’ve accomplished it. This means it may take several failures, but if I know it can be done then the only thing in my way is…ME.
This has always been my strong will and something that was instilled in me by my parents as a kid, and really, I’ve just followed their example. Because I’m a passionate grower and know there are countless others who are struggling trying to grow a simple tomato plant makes me even more enthusiastic for sharing.
I’ve been there and I know the feeling of failure. I want them to know that the answer may be out of sight, but is not hidden. It’s right below them in just a few inches of soil and I want to show them.
Yes to both questions. I’m very enthusiastic about nature and utilizing it the way it was meant to be used and in ways we haven’t even imagined yet AND it’s who I am.
Viva La Worm Farming Revolucion!
UWC: First of all, congratulations on the Worm Farming Revolution e-book you released last year and the successful Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds for the physical version. How does it feel to be at the end of that process?
PP: Thanks for the congrats, Steve!
It totally feels great to have the book out in both digital and hardcopy. The digital book came out first and it’s a wonderful tool to have, due to the portability and ease of use on several devices. However, to have and hold 274 pages of tangible, concrete knowledge that represents years of proven results, is a feeling of profound accomplishment. Although, not only for me, but several other contributing worm farmers. It was indeed a community effort in writing and promoting.
However, this is only the beginning and now the REAL work begins and will be ongoing…marketing the book.
UWC: How long did this take you to write?
PP: If we remove the years of field work and the procrastination then we’re left with 3 months from the time I sat down and began tapping on the keyboard. The PDF eBook was written during the cold winter months and finished by spring of 2015. It was then released to the public by spring of 2015 and remains available in version 1.2 and there will be addenda in the future.
When I sat down to write the book it had to do ONE THING! Grab your attention and KEEP IT, but doing that “one thing” entails a lot of things. I knew there would be people of all types reading the book so I wanted to be mindful of their likes and dislikes when reading a book.
People love to learn, get excited, and want the necessary tools to do the job. This means the book had to…
- Teach – fill their minds with KNOWLEDGE
- Inspire – create a desire to make them WANT to do what’s in the book
- Empower – give them the necessary tools to DO what the book teaches
Most “How-to” books fulfill the teaching aspect and many times, through the teaching alone, people can feel inspired and empowered. There are a lot of good books. However, because there were already many books, I knew it needed to be different and “different” is my middle name. 🙂
There is no worm composting book like it as it contains links to videos, documents, websites, printable charts, links to free related coloring pages, links to groups, contributions from like-minded worm farmers, full of inspirational quotes, contains nearly 100 photos, a glossary of need-to-know terms, and on and on.
Even the most ADHD individual who hates to read (like me) will stay glued to the pages and their wandering eyes locked in one position…on the content and in order. Pages are broken up in a way that it doesn’t look like the content mimics the old Encyclopedia Britannicas. It contains bold lines, large enough font, and most importantly, in color. To top it all off, it's not nerdy. It’s in an easy-to-read format with some nerdy things that are laid out in a fun way.
So this is why it took 3 months.
Our family foreclosure business slowed down in the winter of 2015 and I was like a bear tucked away in a den. No one (and I mean NO ONE) DARE to disturb my intense manifesto’ing. I do believe a fell asleep a few times. I’ll say my family is extremely delighted those months are over. The most important thing to me (no matter how long it took) was that it was done the right way and not just slapped together. The reviews today are clear to me that it was methodically, meticulously, and patiently thought out.
For ANY body wanting to write a book, I say, “Go slow and do it right.” You’ll be so glad you “tortured” yourself in the beginning, to be proud of something for a lifetime. When you look back, years from now, you won’t even remember the agony. However, if you skip the agony now then you WILL be tortured for the rest of your life. Be proud of what you’ve done and who you are and let it translate that way.
UWC: Is the paperback a physical version of the E-book or are there any content changes we should be aware of?
PP: As far as content it’s all the same. There’s only slight grammatical & spelling changes, a picture inserted in the front, and another quote inserted. However, there are some links in the hardcopy that have been omitted from the eBook. I might also add that many, many people own both the digital and physical book for many reasons as you can do a few things with one book that you can’t with the other.
UWC: How has the feedback been?
PP: Seeing that I didn’t know how it would be received at all, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, and at times, I’m beside myself. I’m probably going to put my foot in my mouth by this next statement, but I haven’t had one negative review yet and I have received several reviews since the book came out last spring.
I’ve actually received a few offline verbal reviews by some readers saying that they’re NOT into worm farming, but find the book difficult to put down. Maybe they’re caught up in the natural process, concept, and implementation or maybe they just feel inspired to be the best at what they do. The book offers hope that there’s a natural alternative to dangerous chemicals or even a better way to recycle, garden, or raise your own fishing worms & pet food. Although the book is great for all of the above it’s mostly geared toward “returning to the founding principles of successful gardening”. That was mostly my intent because of my failed gardening history due to many people like me that became disconnected with the land and totally dependent on the grocery store or upon the chemical companies to “teach” me how to grow “healthy” food.
I’ve said many times that we MUST become worm farming evangelists because it IS the gospel of nature. Gospel simply means “Good News” and there’s no better good news for chemical alternatives than something that’s natural, thriving and teeming with life.
UWC: Any plans for the future you can let us in on?
I’m proud to already have 4 products in the WFR product-line with the 5th coming. We’ve just released the Worm Farming Coloring and Activity eBook.
The customer will be allowed to print as many coloring pages as they want with the purchase of the coloring eBook. There are also plans for a hardcopy of the coloring book, but no ETA on that. By the way, the old 12 pages are still free and readily available on the WFR website and added to the new 44 page Coloring eBook.
The coloring eBook teaches kids the value worms and the soil. It also lays the foundation and shows them who the heroes of the soil are.
I DO need to take a second and give credit to my daughter Ambrea Hansen for drawing them. She’s the artist in the family, and as an entrepreneur. You try very hard to keep everything in-house!
Now…Steve, here’s a product idea I’ve never told ANYONE (not even in private) but to your audience. I’ve always considered myself as a thinker AND a doer because without the “do,” it just festers and rots inside your brain. When someone else comes out with your idea, it’s not like you had envisioned it and then you think it’s a dumb product. Okay just joking, sort of. 😉
When it comes to growing your own food, I was raised in the garden by my father and uncle. I NEVER forgot some of the skills and work ethics they taught me. When I grew older I returned to those roots better, stronger, & smarter. I wished I had never left in the first place, but maybe it made me a stronger advocate today. I don’t know.
I already have products that mainly target the adult audience (baby boomers, Gen X, Millennials or Gen Y ) except for the coloring pages. I really want to reach out to the next generation of kids, Gen Z or the iGeneration. This is extremely paramount for so many reasons.
We can possess and utilize all the information in the world, BUT if we can’t get our kids to do the same, then either it’ll be lost or manipulated by those in power (whoever they may be). I don’t want to sound crazy, but isn’t there a reason why chemical fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, GMO’s etc. are so prominent today?
Our kids are our only hope. We may have the authority now, but we know how the tables will eventually turn. Will the children of tomorrow be the heroes that the baby boomer generation was? I really, really want to believe so. If they ever have any glimmer of hope to be able to benefit from things that are natural then that responsibility lies within me and you.
So what I want to do is to be able to catch their imagination and take them to a place that has never been seen or talked about before but exists in the playgrounds, in the parks, in the forests, and even in their backyards.
I want to open their eyes to an exciting world where everything is good and has a purpose, an exciting, thrilling adventure of ups & downs, twists & turns, and hope for every living creature whether plant, animal, or human. It’ll be a story, to not only remember, but to put into practice so they don’t repeat the mistakes of our generation. It’s a story of a community that worked together for one purpose, to live happy and healthy and it all takes place everyday right under their little feet.
This story will have cartoon drawings and a storyline that will be written in a way that, hopefully, a company like Pixar would want to pick up (Ha Ha!). It may be another KickStarter or Go Fund Me campaign, but it is definitely on my “To Do” list.
I’m planning on the “Revolution” brand to be on T-shirts, hats, mugs, etc. so that we all can proudly show what we stand behind. It’ll spark great conversation too 😉 I just want it to be about the Revolution so as not to promote Worm Farming Revealed on the products. For some, it’s not about a “brand”, but about a “Revolutionary Phenomenon Sweeping the Globe”.
I also have another idea that will need to remain under wraps, but like a kid in a candy store with $0, I’m all giddy about nothing, if that makes any sense!
Some Answers for Vermicomposters
UWC: What are the three biggest mistakes newbies will make with their bins?
PP: This might seem somewhat unorthodox, but under reading, over thinking, & being too enthusiastic. This is a little vague and warrants great defining, so bear with me.
- Under-Reading – You HAVE to know what you’re getting into before doing anything, especially when it comes to animals. If I hadn’t have read any books on how to raise goats & chickens they might have become very sick or even die. Worms are no different. I’ve seen many people dive straight into worm farming and kill their first pound of worms. This is usually due to overfeeding, but not always. Sometimes it’s excessive heat, neglect, mass exodus, etc. You must do your due diligence and know what you’re getting into.I was an “under reader” my first time, and I know many successful worm farmers that started out that way as well. I mean, how hard can it be to raise worms? It’s only dirt and food, right? We can’t control it if we don’t understand it. I would never suggest to learn-on-the-go. So please, read anything you can, even if it’s not a book I wrote. Just read something from someone who knows their stuff. I remember when pet rocks were popular, and I believe that even THEY came with instructions. Might I suggest though, that if you can’t take care of a pet rock then please don’t culture worms! 🙂
- Being Too Enthusiastic – There are some that get so excited and passionate (with good intention) they begin to believe anything told to them. This is something I’ve termed “low information enthusiasts.” Unfortunately this can translate into a worm system becoming a disaster. Sometimes, if what you hear is too good to be true, it just might be true because worms ARE that amazing. However, sometimes it’s just NOT true.If you hear something, then you must test that theory or so-called “fact” before you blindly except it for truth. This will involve implementing things in moderation and gradually increasing in quantity over time if results are the same or favorably greater. Only if you really trust the information and the individual giving it, would it be warranted to perform the particular task.Please don’t misunderstand me. I DO love very enthusiastic worm farmers, but no matter how excited a teenager is to drive, they must know how to properly handle the vehicle before they begin teaching others.
- Over Thinking – Believe it or not, this really is a factor that can be made by, not only budding worm farmers, but seasoned experts as well. Sometimes we become carried away by our own ambitions for making something better by over simplifying OR over complicating the process. This is one of the reasons I came out with The 5 fundamentals of worm farming. Sometimes in our process of trying to make something better, it ends up worse. Going back to the 5 fundamentals of any worm system will ensure that you get back on track or at least remember them while you’re making your improvements.Steve, I see it all the time. Sometimes people are so enthusiastic that they under read and begin to over think a process when nature is so incredibly simple it’s almost too easy that it seems wrong. I would almost think this is how chemical fertilizers were invented and nothing is more complicated than that. Man always finds a way to make it more complicated.
We could also talk about under thinking in which could also fit into the category of under reading/informed. As already mentioned, do your research, test-test-test, and implement everything in moderation. Don’t guess that something will work. Test the hypothesis first.
UWC: Let’s say I gave a new home vermicomposter $150. How would you tell him or her to spend it? (This is NOT an offer!)
PP: That’s not quite so easy to answer. This would really depend on their approach based on their needs.
- Do they only want to raise fishing worms?
- Do they only want to recycle?
- Do they only want to breed a lot of worms and create a lot of castings?
- ..all of the above?
Interestingly I talk about how to start a worm farm for under $5. It’s not what I recommend, but for those on a shoestring budget, or those with a LOT of patience, it can be done. However, $150 is a really nice chunk of change to get you started.
This will inevitably rest on 2 options…
The farmer first needs to figure out if s/he wants to compost indoors or outdoors. The benefits of outdoor compost piles are the sheer number of worms and castings that can be accumulated. If this is the desire then most of the money can go into the purchase of worms. Depending on what climate you live in, you’ll need to do some research into extreme vermicomposting. One will also need to determine which “pile” system they’d want, such as, a traditional compost pile, windrows, a wedge system, or others. A beginner can also use a container of some kind if they don’t want to go big yet want to keep it outdoors. The winter will be a challenge but very doable. I talk a bit about this in my book.
If someone wants to compost indoors then figuring out how to spend the money wisely still depends on why they’re composting in the first place, and choosing an indoor container can be a little challenging, especially when everyone says they’re system is the best.;)
For $150, when it comes to indoor systems, I’ve narrowed it down to 3 most practical systems, The Worm Factory, The Worm Inn, and a plastic tote. The plastic tote is more of a challenge, but the “challenge” is a great teacher. If you can keep worms in a plastic tote, you can keep them in anything. This is also the cheapest route, but I still wouldn’t spend even $100 on worms. Starting out with 1 or 2 pounds is best until you’ve learned a great deal about culturing them.
Next would be the 2 commercially made systems, in which the $150 would come into play. The Worm Factory 360 and the Worm Inn. These are 2 different systems and they’re both great. I’ve had both of these systems for several years and I still love them both. Most people would tell you that they lean towards the Worm Inn, but I wonder how many of them have actually owned the newer Factory (the 360 which allows for more ventilation). However, I like them both the same. I recommend getting 1 to 2 pounds of worms, but I lean more towards 1 pound to start out. If you’re very handy and want to go bigger I would suggest building a CFT system, such as The BEAST. Their sizes range greatly and are the most effective and efficient systems in the industry.
So when it comes to “How to Wisely Spend $150”…that’s my two cents 😉
UWC: The winters in Kansas must be brutal. How do you keep your worms alive?
PP: I do a lot of worm composting indoors, but I also have large heaps of used hay and goat manure. Outside, the hay and manure attract at least 3 common species of worms in the Anecic, Endogeic, & Epigeic groups.
When it gets colder, the worms just go deeper into the piles and a few may die off, but when spring rolls around the numbers are exponentially greater than the year before. I shot a video once of a worm that was wiggling just underneath a 2×4 stud. The temperature was 17°F. These creatures are amazing!
UWC: Any chances you'd leave the “day job” to pursue vermiculture or vermicomposting as a full-time gig?
PP: That’s eventually my goal. Although it’ll be a long road, it’s a road I’m willing to pave. There have been some before me, but my road is unique. We all have different visions and are unique in our approach. It’s what makes the worm composting community so exciting.
I think everyone wants to make a living doing something they love. If that entails showing someone how to be successful at building healthy soil, recycling, worm farming, etc and puts a huge smile on their face year after year, and they get others to do it, then…count me in! Would I quit my day job? Heck yeah!!!
UWC: If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently when it comes to your physical business?
PP: Many years ago I began building my worm population and building a website to sell worms and worm-related products. My biggest focus was to get good quality information out and thus free online worm farming guide was born. My biggest focus was to that I really wanted to get good quality information out and the free online worm farming guide was born. I knew that creating an informational website coupled with a physical business PLUS my day job would be extremely taxing and something, if not everything, would suffer. I just couldn’t be stretched that thin.
So I decided to hook up with like-minded individuals that are honest and that have great service and quality products. This has allowed me to focus on bringing more good information to people along with record and share my practices in the field. I’m not sure I would have created my books and be ready for the next stages of my life if I were still tied down in the physical aspect of worm farming.
The Online Experience
UWC: How about the online business and book-writing process? Anything you’d change about how you attacked writing a book?
PP: I honestly can’t think of any other way I would have approached it. It has totally worked out so far. Like I said earlier, the hard part still awaits, marketing the books. I just hope and pray that I do it right.
UWC: You’re a very internet-savvy dude and really seem to enjoy the marketing side of things. What would be your advice to anyone trying to accomplish what you have, whether it’s in the physical business or the online/content marketing business?
PP: OMG! I don’t know how I’ll manage to keep this one short!
I’ve always been entrepreneurially minded. In the online world it’s called being a “solopreneur.” I’ve been dabbling in the online world since 1997, building pages, and being fascinated by the technology. I’ve always wanted an online business but never had that “Ah HA!” product or idea.
I’ve had a few online sites with products back in the day, but it was a complete flop. They weren’t me and I was just trying to make money online. So I quit, but only for a while. When I went back to gardening and embraced worm farming I coupled my knowledge of nature with my knowledge of technology and VOILA! My dreams were rekindled.
I now had something I believed in, something I was passionate about, and something that was real.
You have to be honest, real, and passionate about what you’re doing because if you’re not and just want to make money at something, then it will always translate that way. You can’t hide your true feelings all of the time and people can spot a fake a mile away. This goes for both the online & physical business. Love what you do and do what you love.
Now, as for the online business alone, stay far away from SEO training. There are some good practices to learn, but it’s all a BIG guessing game. You may be on top one month and the next month 20 pages away. Don’t chase search engines. Chase people, because that’s who the search engines are chasing.
Put yourself in a visitor’s shoes. Create great content that you know a visitor is looking for (do your research) and be honestly entertaining (don’t look like an encyclopedia). When the search engines change their algorithms to give searchers a better experience, your pages will get closer and closer to the top.
It won’t happen overnight, but month after month you’ll see the traffic come in on that page. It’s not always that easy and there are some fundamentals that must be implemented, but this is it in a nutshell. It takes me about a full day to figure out what keyword I’ll use and how it will be implemented. This is how people find you.
Pick the wrong one and it’ll take months to over a year to correct it.
People and content will never change, but the way we search for it will. A website is scored on many variables such as, how long was the visitor there? Where else on your site did they go? Did they come back? Did they share your site or page? Are other sites linking to yours? Are they quality sites? Do you implement social media? What are all the interactions there?…and on and on. It’s not just based on the keyword you chose for that page. Hopefully you are choosing them wisely and alerting the search engines about them.
I wouldn’t have been where I am today or learned as much about online marketing if it wasn’t for my web hosting platform, but in my opinion, there’s absolutely no excuse today to NOT be successful in a niche. With all of the information, tools, and great products (even if you have to create your own) you’d have to be lazy, sick, or disabled in some form (and there are still plenty of those people that are successful) to not be reaching people or monetizing in some form. It just takes time and desire. Please understand I’m just trying to light a fire under the butt of those who want to hear.
As long you’re honest, have a great product or idea, and believe in what you’re doing (a passion for the mission) then the ONLY thing standing in your way is YOU.
Don’t give up! If something doesn’t work, then for crying out loud…DON’T CALL IT A FAILURE! Call it a “stepping stone” that gets you to the next level. Most people starting ANYTHING will give up because they had more than one “failure” and/or it didn’t happen fast enough. You only fail when you QUIT. It’s that simple.
I would also add…Don’t have too many irons in the fire or you may have too many fires. Know your limits, but don’t limit your knowledge.
Food for thought…
I’d like to walk to my neighbor’s house and visit them. I know it’s going to take some steps, but I sure won’t give up after the first few if it doesn’t get me there. I’ll just keep on walking till I do. I’ve seen many people do it. I know I can too!
UWC: Have you had a “can't miss” idea that fell flat with your audience?
PP: Yes. I thought I would ask my audience if they would like to see my wife knit and crochet worm-related articles of clothing and cozies. It’s a BIG thing right now and she’s very good at it. I thought people would eat it up, but I only received a couple of responses. It’s not completely abandoned. It’s just on hold for the foreseeable future.
I’m going to stick with what’s working for now.
UWC: What are some of your unexpected successes? Was there an information product that people loved, or an article that resonated in a way you didn’t expect?
PP: In all honesty I didn’t think the book would be received this well. Now I’m getting wonderful emails, private messages, reviews online, and people sending me pictures of their garden as a testimony.
When I discovered Diatomaceous Earth (DE) and its many organic uses I knew I had to brag about this one. Because it can relate to worm farming, gardening, and many other things, I wrote 5 very long posts on the topic. Some of those DE articles (depending on the season) outperform many of my worm pages and one of them, sometimes, will be more popular than my homepage. So, yeah…I didn’t expect that.
The Mainstreaming of Vermicomposting
UWC: Compare the US public’s awareness of vermicomposting now as opposed to when you got started vermicomposting. To use a baseball analogy, how many innings are we into a 9-inning ballgame?
PP: When I first entered the scene in the mid 2000’s it was more of a tight-knit group, yet welcoming to anyone. You could find several websites, but few worm farming forums. If you wanted to discuss worm composting in forums you had to go to gardening groups mostly.
Many people saw the need to put their best foot forward and, with the tools of the Internet, began to blog, video, and create more content about what their experiences and knowledge had done for them. We will remember the pioneers that have gone before us and still continue to lead because we wouldn’t be where we are today without them. It was a much lonelier crowd then. Today is MUCH different and I’m about to reveal to your audience the size of the playing field. You mentioned putting it in terms of a ball game, so let’s PLAY BALL!
When I give a worm farming presentation to gardeners, I’ll ask a question like this, “How many have heard of the term ‘worm farming’ or ‘worm composting’?” Just 2 years ago about 20% would raise their hand. Immediately I follow up with this question, “Okay and how many are actually doing it?” No one raised their hand.
I ask the same question this year to gardeners and 80% raise their hand. I immediately follow up with the second question and about 5% raise their hand. Now this can have a lot to do with group types, area, etc.
Another scenario I can give you is the statistics of my website. I know it’s not an exact science and some of it’s due to increasing website exposure and it’s only one site, but indulge me.
I began in March of 2010 and only had 203 visitors for the month. 1 year later it rose to 2,542 visits for the month of March. March 2012 it was 6,968 visits. Fast forward to this year, March 2016 it was at 25,907 visits and 13,433 visitors.
My point is that, even though I may not have as many visits as other worm farming sites (RedWormComposting.com), just imagine multiplying WFR, RWC, UJW, UWC, etc. with thousands of other worm farming sites. Although a great sum of the searches are the same people jumping from site to site, about half of them are new. We know this by reading the statistics. “Visits” represent returning individuals and “visitors” represent unique, never-been-to-the-website visits. It adds up to the sum of a great potential. These are visits from people all over the world, not just the USA.
For those wanting to start an online worm business, don’t let these numbers overwhelm you but inspire you. We need unique people, companies, and ideas. There is PLENTY of room.
We’re living in an era where 50% of the world (3.2 billion) has access to the Internet and we’re all gobbling up information. We CAN’T get enough. The more we read the more we want. We’re information junkies. Because of all this information we have become children of the DIY generation.
Now here comes the trifecta or “Triple Play” if you’re on the winning team 🙂
Information + DIY + Technology = New worm products that haven’t even been invented yet. We’re tackling all 3 of these (woops! That’s football).
The Worm Inn, Worm Factory 360, and CFT bins are great products, but you can’t tell me that this is as good as it gets. The industrial worm business has already come up with some pretty neat machines that are hands-free. It’s only a matter of time before DIYers at home are doing the same thing and even better, more efficient, and even hands-free.
It’s only a matter of time before DIYers at home are doing the same thing and maybe better, more efficient, and even hands-free. If you’re in the worm business already, then you’re going to be THAT entrepreneur that gives it to the customer or plays a role in getting it TO them.
I believe the worm farming pioneer days are over. We are entering into a new and exciting era. A trail that the pioneers have blazed so that we all can help return one another to nature whom we’ve abandoned long ago for chemicals. We have entered into a new dawning and are passing out the torches to light the way for several self-reliant individuals who know how to “think” and “do” things for themselves.
So with that I say, “Thank You” to the pioneers who sang our anthem and tossed the first pitch. Now…Let the crack of the bat be the sound of Revolution that was heard around the world!
There’s a saying in The Worm Farming Revolution by Winston Churchill, “Now this is not the end. It’s not even the beginning of the end, but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
So is this the end of the first inning? I don’t think it matters. I’m just glad to play in a game that looks as though it has no end in sight. Long Live The Revolution!
P.S. You wouldn’t be related to Winston by any chance would you?
UWC: I wish! I thought so until about 5 years ago when Ancestry.com proved otherwise.
So, why do you think the US has been slower than countries like India to adopt vermicomposting as a method of waste mitigation?
PP: There are several reasons and the 2 biggest factors, I believe, are economics & corporations.
Corporations –The inventions of chemical fertilizers became more prominent in the 30’s, 40's, and 50’s. There were those in the 1930’s advocating against chemicals because it stripped the land of vital nutrients. There wasn’t much testing on the chemicals to determine how safe they were for the general public. Any results from testing that WERE performed were swept under the rug or falsified.
The results from chemicals (to grow big fruit and yields) were amazing and the food still tasted great. It’s what I call, “One of the most successful failures of all time”. It was a “God-Send” for all humanity. Eventually, giant machines were designed to implement these chemicals into the soil and they keep getting bigger and bigger today.
Because there’s no need to recycle the food into a reusable state, it goes straight into the landfill where it rots and becomes natural gas for thousands of homes. Our local landfill provides gas to 5,000 homes and climbing. At least we’re getting something out of it.
Economics – As the economy continues to collapse, bubbles burst, and money is printed out of thin air, the economy begins to tank. It’s built on a system of borrowing and lending. Since our currency is no longer on the gold standard, but backed by a promise from the government (that can be easily manipulated), the trust in the American dollar all over the world is in a tail spin. Because the bubble continues to be artificially propped up means the next bubble coming will be one of the worst in the history of the world.
This has caused a “domino effect” with inflation and high food prices among so many other things. More and more Americans are standing up, screaming & shaking their fist at the status quo, and are sick and tired of NOT being heard.
This is when you just HAVE to take matters into your own hands and protect your family by becoming more independent or self-reliant. Countries such as you mentioned, Steve, have always BEEN reliant on themselves. Many wouldn’t nor couldn’t even dream of throwing a banana peel in the trash. They know it all must return to the ground to provide life.
They’ve never walked away from their roots, but due to population increases, have made the process of vermicomposting and recycling more efficient for their needs. There are other factors that have caused Americans to turn more towards recycling via vermicomposting such as pollution, talks of climate change, healthy organic eating, and the only person you can ever seem to trust anymore is yourself.
I know this was a longer answer than expected, but it helps to understand where we came from, where we are, and hopefully, where we need to go.
On the positive side, we are seeing more and more businesses implementing a waste management program in several facilities such as prisons, airports, supermarkets, hospitals, schools, churches, neighborhoods, offices, military, etc, etc,… There have been several studies performed and most of them prove that the US throws away 50% of food in the form of leftovers, rotten produce, or just because it doesn’t look right.
There are so many avenues to pursue in waste management alone, it’s unimaginable. Could this be inning #2 on the horizon? 😉 I’ve even seen a patent for the recycling of asbestos using worms. Steve, we’re living in the scariest of times and the best of times. However, where there is a great deal of fear, there’s also a great deal of courage. I’ve been seeing some very brave people lately.
The Launch of the 4-Pack
UWC: I’ve already mentioned that you’re a prolific writer and creator, so I’ve got to mention that you have a 4-pack of goodies for folks who want to go a little deeper. Can you describe what people can get with this?
PP: Sure! The 4-Pack is made up of The Worm Farming Trilogy and the coloring pages. They can be purchased separately or as a 4-Pack bundle.
The Worm Farming Trilogy includes:
- The Worm Farming Revolution book– This teaches you everything you need to know about raising worms for the purpose of harvesting castings for plant food, recycling food waste, and culturing your own pet food or fishing worms. It contains many contributors who share with us their worm systems. It also touches on the business side with real interviews from contributors who own a worm business, but not the same type of worm growers. They are businesses of all kinds. Useful charts, video links, and other links to documents, etc. It’s a CONTENT RICH BOOK! 274 pages!
- The Worm Farming Presentation – This is a powerful PowerPoint presentation based on the The Worm Farming Revolution book and my years of proven results in the field. It’s a 36-page slide presentation teaching the benefits of worms, worm castings, and worm tea. It also contains a 37-page slide guide. The guide walks the presenter (outside of the presentation) through each slide and explains what’s on each slide in detail so that you, as the presenter, can understand what you’re presenting. I would also mention that it is completely editable in every way.
- Worm Farming Revealed’s Secret Recipe – This is an in-depth description of my personal methodology and ingredients I use to grow large, healthy, pest-resistant plants. It is, literally, climbing into my head and understanding everything I do in my own garden. It is exactly what I do to get the results I get year after year no matter the weather. Worm castings are great. It begins to lay the foundation and must be implemented, but there are also other prerequisites to growing a healthy plant.
- The Worm Farming Coloring and Activity Book – This is part of the 4-Pack or can be purchased separately. It’s full of coloring pages and activities for kids (and adults, you know who you are!) It’s 44 pages and teaches kids the benefits of worms & microbes as they color. The eBook will allow for indefinite printing under the rights of the user.
At Worm Farming Revealed we are constantly creating products that Teach, Inspire, & Empower our audience to help them be the best they can be at worm farming, gardening, recycling, etc. Without the purchase of these products we CANNOT continue to do this. If you believe in our mission, let us know by getting some of the books listed above.
Thank you Steve, for your vision and for your efforts to reach out to the community by getting inside the minds of many leaders of the worm farming community. I know it’s NOT easy to give up so much time and energy when it would be so much easier to just keep information to yourself and to go on with your life in secret. It truly is a sacrifice and shows that you care about your family, your country, and the one and only planet we have.
Bless you and your family. I wish you much success and a richness of life for many years to come.
UWC: Thanks Pauly! It's not much of a cross to bear! 🙂
Well if you couldn't tell, Pauly is a true believer. And it's kind of humbling to interview someone with his passion, dedicated, and visceral attachment to worms and their place in the world.
I have to admit that if some higher authority or my wife (but I repeat myself) forbid me from ever feeding our kitchen and yard waste to the worms and made me give up Urban Worm Company, I'd be OK. I would find some other fascination. I enjoy it, but it's not a part of me.
Not so with Paul. It seems like there's something about Paul Piccirillo's relationship to vermicomposting that intertwines it into who he is as a person.
Well he gave us so much today, I have to admit to being at a little bit of a loss as how to wrap this up! But for those of you still curious about turning your household waste into some crazy good fertilizer and you decide to give it a try, you might find yourself infused with the same energy for it that Paul Piccirillo showed us today.
This interview was a lot to chew on, so if you'd like a PDF copy to read offline, please see the form below!