The Community Engagement Unit at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) recently joined hands with Refilwe organisation in Lanseria to actively participate and learn about vermicomposting, also known as composting using earthworms. Vermicast product improves environmental sustainability, enhances soil and vegetation for farmers, and provides significantly better outcomes than conventional compost.
“Composting is a wonderful teaching tool because you can use it to introduce and explain concepts as far-reaching as the life cycle, the importance of decomposition, soil amendment, recycling, resource management, garbage and landfills and biodegradable and non-biodegradable items,” says Ms Monki Motsepe, UJ Community Engagement Liaison Specialist.
A number of worm farm projects have been initiated at the University and have expanded off-campus. The earth worms, commonly known as ‘Red Wigglers’, are used to breakdown biodegradable waste into a rich fertilizer both in a liquid (vermi-tea) and solid form.
“UJ CE Volunteer champions helped with the entire process of producing Vermicast, including carrying crates with compost ready to be used for production, operating the machine/ tank and finally collecting the end product, added Motsepe.
The Refilwe Project has a worm farm and a recycling station. The worm farm is used to produce Vermicast that helps beneficiaries to produce good quality vegetables, while recycled items generate funds for children in the project to buy daily necessities including stationery.
“Our students enjoyed feeding the worms and watching them through the clear composter. When they feed the worms they checked the moisture, the acidity, and the activity of the worms. It was very exciting to see young worms in the composter and now that our students have vermicomposting experience, they really take pleasure in talking about it and teaching others,” added Motsepe.
Passion and the love for a healthy environment and organic life style is a way to go, motivating volunteer champions’ engagement in such a valuable and unique environmental sustainability project, which fits well with their academic studies, said Motsepe.
Sentiments from a UJ CE Volunteer Student:
“I enjoy environment studies and organic farming as it gives me an opportunity to implement what I am studying. I’m also enjoying helping out others to see the value of farming, bringing change to many lives in a form of food security” – Mr Modibe Matsepane, 3rd year Environmental Management and Geology student.