Friday, June 10, 2011

Industrial Evolution by Lyle Estill

The garden continues to yield bountifully although the rhubarb, strawberries, leeks and parsnips are done for now. Bumper crop of lettuce - weeds are doing well also. I know just what you wanted to know - my garden report.


I was excited to receive my brother Lyle's new book Industrial Evolution - Local Solutions for a Low Carbon Future. I think since this is his third published book, he now deserves to be called a writer. And he is a good writer (despite my bias since he is my brother) or he would not have had a third one published.

I liked his first book Biodiesel Power (although I never seem to be able to spell diesel without a spell checker). It was sort of an offshoot of his energy blog and compilation from it. I loved his second Small is Possible. (despite giving me teasing him mercilessly about being small and always wanting to be small).

I think he has really found his stride with this book. He seems comfortable in his voice. Good book Lyle - congratulations.

I rarely read story books which is what this one is. It is a rambling account of life in small town America. He shares the entrepreneurial struggles of the various businesses that have gotten together in his eco compound.

It is well written and an easy read. I found it to be a page turner and read it in one sitting. He also has a good sense of humor which makes it fun.

An excerpt:

"At Piedmont Biofarm we are in the worm business. We sell Worms. We sell worm poop (called castings in polite circles). We sell worm digesters. And we sell expertise in the form of workshops, speaking gigs and consulting.

One of the things I love about the worm business is that it goes beyond sustainability and pushed on to rejuvenation. If we accept the notion that the human animal has done a lot of damage to the planet via its "industrial" activity, then we must recognize that we have a lot of remediation to do. And worm castings are a great start."

And I loved the label they put on the worm casting bag:

"Worm FAQ’s

Why would I want to buy worm poop? It’s a great soil amendment for bedding plants, houseplants, and gardens.

So it’s like fertilizer? Yup. And just like fertilizer you can think of it in ratios. Pick up a bag of fertilizer sometime and you will see an NPK listing. The N is for nitrogen. The P is for phosphorous. The K is for potassium. Worm castings have an average NPK ratio of 1.6-0.25-1.

Is it organic? Yup. Worms concentrate organic matter, so their castings break down much faster than food scraps in a compost pile. Organic matter also has a C:N ratio. That’s a measure of how much carbon and nitrogen are present. There’s always more carbon than nitrogen. Worm castings tend to average 12.5:1.

What’s the PH? Worm castings average about 6.77.

Is it safe? We don’t suggest eating it. But it is great to add to your soil. It has trace minerals in it, and we get every batch tested by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture before we take it to the market. That way we know it is free of pathogens that can harm your bedding plants.

Where do they come from? Piedmont Biofarm, on the eastern edge of Pittsboro. We collect food waste (some from Chatham Marketplace), and run it through our vermiculture digestion system. More info on Piedmont Biofarm:

If you would like to buy in bulk, call Amanda at 919-321-8260. We don’t make a lot of these—the worms are virtually hand raised, so make sure you call ahead.

Why so expensive? We are the only permitted vermiculture facility powered by human food waste in North Carolina. If you would like to save money on your castings, check out Country Home and Farm on Small St. in Pittsboro. Over there Melinda sells cheaper castings in bulk that come from hog waste.

Can I just get my own worms and make my own for free? Yup. Please do. You can take Worm Workshops at the Abundance foundation next to Piedmont Biofarm, or you can go to Bountiful Backyards in Durham.

Why would we advertise for our competition? Because, we think the world needs to change. One way to start change is by making dirt. Soil can be a renewable resource if it is treated right. And worm castings—from anyone—can be an excellent start."


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