Robert Winship, Writer
Dave Baker, Filmmaker
It’s a funny name Red Wiggler, unserious at first take. Farm founder Woody Woodroof says “It’s a question designed to be asked.”
The red wiggler, which goes by many names (earthworm, trout worm, brandling worm) is a red worm used for vermicomposting. It is a slimy little garden pal that eats through dinner table scraps, old grass clippings, apple cores, banana peels and any other organically derived waste to create compost. They are as valuable to farming as they are common.
“It’s sort of a metaphor. The Red Wiggler hopes to be a place that can create the conditions for health and success,” says Woody. That health and success are focused especially on the growers at Red Wiggler, each of whom are people with disabilities hired to work on the farm. Red Wiggler is designed specially to develop and empower the personal and professional skills of the growers.
Care farming at Red Wiggler comes down to working with each grower on a series of goals. Though much of the farming is done by hand, the staff and growers do use tools like the mechanical seeder to aid in the work and individual growth of the growers.
For growers, “Their goal might be first to get introduced to a tool, then to become adept enough to be able to have it be part of their expected work plan,” says Katie Junghans. “And then eventually become independent, where they could be set up with another grower or a volunteer and do that on their own.”