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I remember when…Groundskeeper Jason Anderson’s first Sokol Blosser memories and building our worm compost

I remember when I first started at Sokol Blosser. It was the fall of 2013. The leaves were falling and piling up fast throughout the Tasting Rooms and Sokol Blosser Winery grounds. A lot of my time was spent blowing them off our plant beds and gravel pathways. I then disposed of them into our compost piles. This kept our estate beautiful for all guests to enjoy in a sustainable way!

The idea of creating a worm bin began brewing when I first joined our sustainability committee. We discussed improving our waste disposal program and tossed around the idea of composting using worms. I was quickly inspired to implement this practice here at Sokol Blosser.

I began to research on what types of worms we needed to use, ideas on what type of containers/bin would be suitable for a vermiculture while eliminating as much cost as possible. The search for materials began right here on the Sokol Blosser grounds. There were several packaging items that could be reused and remolded. Instead of disposing these materials, I began keeping them to make this venture possible. There were several resources that could be used to build or reuse structures. Anything from pallets, to old wine barrels to even wooden boxes used to package wine. I was like a kid in a toy store dreaming up ideas for structures.

After a little time, we could not have found a better starter bin. We reused 2 emptied barrels using propylene glycol, an organic environmentally friendly compound used in the jackets of wine tanks to prevent freezing. After all, this project was focused on sustainable waste disposal… why not start with reusing what might be considered waste? We took one of the barrels, cut it down to one-third of its height. We took a second barrel, drilled holes in the bottom and set it inside the cut barrel with the holes facing down. Next, we painted the whole thing brown using leftover paint from previous projects. The bin needed to be solid in color in order to block light; worms are sensitive to light. We also drilled holes on the upper third of the bin and reused metal mesh on the inside of them to create ventilation for the worms. Finally, we added worms from Russ and Susan’s worm compost.

Currently the vermicompost, also known as our new worm composting bin, is in use and located in a shaded area behind our John Storrs Tasting Room. We had fun taking this composting idea and bringing it to life. Now we hope to instill this practice in our everyday tasks, which will inevitably reduce waste and produce reusable resources — compost, liquid fertilizer, and why not, fishing worms. Who doesn’t like to fish in the Pacific Northwest?

Next time you are out at our winery, come check out our vermicompost and be sure to toss your compostable waste in the bin!

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