Vermiculture, also known as vermicomposting, is the act of composting organic waste materials by feeding them to worms. After the worms eat and dispose of organic waste, the remaining product becomes a nutrient rich soil that can be used for a variety of agricultural applications. To impact agriculture on a large scale, however, vermiculture projects must employ a variety of professionals, including scientists and waste management officials. Funding for vermiculture projects is made available through a number of grant programs designed to benefit agriculture and defray the costs of composting.
Recycling and composting grant funding may be made available through your state’s department of recycling or environmental protection. For instance, Pennsylvanians can apply for grant funding for vermiculture or other composting projects through the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, or PaDEP. Contact your state’s leading environmental agency and ask about requirements for vermiculture grant funding.
The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program is operated federally by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Grant funding made available through the SARE program can be utilized to defray the costs associated with an applicable vermiculture project. Awards range from $1,000 to $15,000 for producer research grants, or from $30,000 to more than $150,000 for heavily staffed projects. SARE can also help find non-profit partnerships for private vermiculture and vermicompost projects.
USDA-NIFA 1400 Independence Ave., SW Washington, DC 20250 (202) 720-5384 sare.org
USDA Small Business
Private for-profit vermiculture firms can apply for grant funding through the USDA’s Small Business Innovation Research Program. Estimated total federal funding for the grant is in excess of $18 million with an award ceiling of $90,000. Grant funding will be directed towards projects, including vermiculture businesses, addressing current problems that face American agriculture and can potentially cause significant public benefit through research and implementation.
USDA-NIFA 1400 Independence Ave., SW Washington, DC 20250 (202) 401-4002 www.csrees.usda.gov
Material Management Assistance
Grants awarded through the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Material Management Assistance Grant program have funded a number of composting projects, including vermiculture. Projects funded through the EPA’s Material Management Assistance program must address the reduction of solid wastes and the effective management of waste materials. Awards can range from $10,000 to $40,000, dependent upon need. The Material Management Assistance Program is broken up into many different regions across the US; for example, Region 10 consists of Alaska, Idaho, Washington and Oregon. Make sure the vermiculture project’s home state is covered by the region for which you wish to apply.
USEPA 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW Washington, DC 20004 (202) 272-0167 epa.gov