Vermiculture is the practice of using earthworms to break down organic material (often kitchen waste) into very useful and high-quality compost known as vermicompost or worm castings. Vermicompost is extremely high in the nutrients that plants need to survive and its use replaces the ned for chemical fertilizers. Earthworms in general, and Red Wigglers in particular, are very productive composters; they can break down half their body weight in waste each day.
Singer Hill Café’s vermiculture program began in early 2009 from a desire to reduce the amount of kitchen waste and coffee grounds sent to the municipal landfill. We view it as an extension of our recycling program – recycling organic waste into useful compost. We use the Worm Wigwam, a system that is manufactured by Sustainable Agricultural Technologies in Cottage Grove, OR. Our Worm Wigwam can process up to 25 lbs. of organic matter in a single day – keeping 4.5 tons of organic waste out of the landfill in a single year!
Clackamas County only recently enacted business recycling requirements, but Singer Hill Café surpassed every requirement long before they went into effect. Not only do we recycle glass, aluminum, paper, cardboard, and plastic, we find ways to reuse much of the non-recyclable goods. It turns out that produce containers, buckets, and even used milk jugs have use beyond the trash can and we work to find alternate purposes for nearly everything.
For example, we make what we call “the word’s most beautiful trash can” and vertical garden columns out of recycled 55 gallon drums. We also make smaller columns out of 5 gallon recycled pickle buckets.
Sourcing Local and Organic Products
We are also working to green our entire supply chain, supporting responsible growing methods by buying organic and/or local whenever possible. We are also committed to sourcing only preservative-free bread in all of our sandwiches. We have worked hard to build relationships with local companies that share our commitment to health and sustainability, from Stumptown Coffee to Bob’s Red Mill.
Providing Vegetarian and Vegan Options
Many folks believe that one of the most environmentally conscientious decisions we can make is to eat a little lower on the food chain. We provide a ton of great vegetarian and vegan options to those committed to eating a low-carbon diet.