Worm ambassador visits Centennial College’s journalism class

Cathy Nesbitt showing off her crawly composting creatures at the Green Reel Film Festival.  Photo credit: Paul Leavoy.Cathy Nesbitt has found her calling. Worms!

Even though she is called the “Worm Lady”, Nesbitt has not always been a fan of the creatures.

“I was afraid of worms until 2000,” Nesbitt said. “But when you start to realize that worms eat half their weight, live up to 10 years, have five hearts each — and that they produce this fabulous soil, people start to appreciate them.”

Nesbitt is the owner and founder of Cathy’s Crawly Composters — a full time business dedicated to the promotion of vermicomposting and its benefits to the environment.

Vermicomposting is the same as backyard composting, except it is carried out inside with worms. The worms convert food scraps and paper into fertilizer known as castings. Nesbitt uses a specific type of worm called the Red Wiggler because they consume half their weight in daily food scraps.

A school initiative she takes an avid part in is Worms without Borders, which educates children about the advantages of breeding worms.

Fifteen thousand students have seen her worm presentation.

“Kids get so excited about worms,” Nesbitt said, as she pulled out her creatures to show to the class. “It’s really a magic moment when they get it.”

Putting a new spin on children’s birthday celebrations, Nesbitt even hosts worm inspired parties. Instead of candy and toys, the loot bag is filled with a milk or juice carton of worms. And the birthday child receives a four-gallon bin of the crawlers.

But children aren’t the only ones excited about worms.

Karen Armstrong, owner of consulting company, Inside Out, has switched from backyard to worm composting.

“It really is an important part in supporting our earth and our garbage issues,” Armstrong said.

Armstrong and Nesbitt met in networking groups a decade ago and their friendship has developed since then.

“Cathy is a soul of optimism and she genuinely cares about people and our planet,” Armstrong adds.

Nesbitt’s psychology background, as well as experience as a social worker, has helped her deal with people on a day to day basis. One of Nesbitt’s goals, is to merge her two passions: the under-employable and the environment. Currently she’s introducing vermicomposting to mentally challenged kids at a hospital in Toronto.

“When you’re challenged, you just seem to have an innate knowledge,” said Nesbitt with enthusiasm. “And they love it — it’s so peaceful and calming [for them].”

Her enthusiasm is contagious — as shown in the number of people who have begun vermicomposting as a result of being inspired by Nesbitt’s friendly solution to our garbage problem.

Even her husband, Rick ,former web designer decided to put his career on hold to join Cathy’s Crawly Composters.

“Seventy-five percent of my work was dedicated to web designing, and 25 per cent was working with Cathy’s Composters — but when the company started to grow, the percentages switched,” he said. “I started putting more work into Cathy’s and the worm business took over. Besides, I had much more fun doing it.”

“I have copious amounts of energy,” Nesbitt said. “Maybe that’s one of the misconceptions — that I am taking something for all this energy I have.”

Nesbitt takes care of her body and meditates to keep herself grounded. She even admits to doing tribal dance and walking around, “wiggling like a worm.”

“Cathy has looked into spiritual growth to give her more self confidence,” Rick said.”She really has a love of life.”

At a young age, Nesbitt knew she wanted to improve the environment and searched for opportunities to reduce waste.

“I consider it my mission in life,” Nesbitt said.

Cathy Nesbitt will be holding a worm workshop for the ecology team students at Birch Cliff Public School, 1650 Kingston Rd, in Scarborough on Wednesday, March 19, 2008. During the workshop, the Ecology team worm ambassadors will travel to each classroom educating their fellow classmates about the benefits vermicomposting has on the environment.