We left for Costa Rica, for the winter, on November 16, 2009. Near our home in Costa Rica near the border of Panama the coffee farmers have formed a cooperative and they have built a new processing plant. A few years ago, my family donated to the purchase of the processing machinery for the new micro-beneficio(a micro-processor of coffee beans)just outside of the town.
I was very fortunate to meet Mike Durighello in CoopaBuena. He is a student from California, and has been involved in a vermiculture project with the CoopaPueblo micro-beneficio. I visited the project with Mike and I think you will be interested in the different approach to medium-sized vermiculture. Unlike the lunchroom waste and greenhouse waste projects, the beneficio is a mono-cultural waste system that only processes a single waste stream. After the hulls have been removed from the coffee beans in a water-intensive process, the waste is like wet grape skins. Mike adds cow manure and a bit of calcium to enrich his vermicompost and reduce some acidity. The two trays are about a foot deep and about 2m.x4m. (6’x 12’), and lined with heavy black plastic. They have a slight slope to allow excess water to escape as leachate. I helped Mike set up a sort of micro-windrow process inside the first bin. We added new coffee hull waste along the side of the mature vermicompost. The worms will migrate from the digested waste into the fresh material, allowing the harvest to take place after they have moved. Some problems to be faced are that the coffee harvest is seasonal, requiring careful scheduling of feeding the limited material, and a few months of very dry weather that will require care to avoid drying out the system.
Unlike the vertical space-saving VermiChester system, the CoopaPueblo horizontal system requires more area, but they both follow the same general principles. We have the advantage down here of not having to worry about our worms being frozen.
So far, the only use for the finished vermiculture product has been a demonstration garden on the property. The effluent is allowed to drain out on the ground.
Meanwhile, in the village, Sr.William Mendez has been raising head lettuce according to a method taught by a visiting expert from Cuba. He cannot meet the local demand for his lettuce, yet. He has been tending a worm bin that was acquired from some scholars from California when they finished their research project. Whatever they learned and documented must have gone back north with them. I hope to connect some of these dots.