Worms Could be Eating Their Way into Berks Economy

August 12, 2008

(pictured from left to right) Commissioner Kevin Barnhardt,  Commissioner Chair
Mark C. Scott (seated), Commissioner Christian Leinbach, Dr. Rex D'Agostino,
CEO of Green Futures, Inc. 

Dr. Rex D’Agostino, CEO of Green Futures, Inc., Allentown, Lehigh County (seated, right), discusses an economic development project linking worms and food waste with Commissioner Chairman Mark Scott (seated) and Commissioners Kevin Barnhardt (standing left) and Commissioner Christian Leinbach at the August 12, 2008 Commissioners' Workshop.  Dr. D'Agostino is looking to partner with the region's food service industry and possibly local dairy producers to build and operate a food waste and manure processing facility in a greenhouse setup.  The controlled atmosphere and aerobic processing of the waste will eliminate odors, flies, and other vermin nuisances.  The end product will be a highly marketable and fertile soil amendment created through the work of millions of worms.  The worms will reduce the volume of waste from 50 to 90 percent, depending on the type of byproducts they are recycling through their digestive systems and converting into fertilizer.  Berks County is being considered for one of five possible locations in the East due to its proximity to a concentration of food stores and restaurants, and a growing population of consumers.  This venture could ultimately benefit the Berks County farm community by supplementing farm income and addressing nutrient management issues.  The county's food industry would have an alternative to landfills for disposing of food waste.  And consumers would be able to purchase this rich soil amendment for their gardens, lawns, or any other place where the work of Mother Nature’s soil improvers --- worms --- would be useful.