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First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross

Earthworm Factory To Open In Jacksonville

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Chicago resident and One Spark creator Ed Hubbard is applying a new idea to an organism that’s been around for thousands of years: Earthworms. The “worm wrangler” breeds earthworms in able to eliminate organic waste, converting it into bio-fertilizer.

By feeding them material like T-shirts, cardboard, and coffee grounds, the worms, or as Hubbard calls them, "recyclers," are able to break the waste down into organic vermicastings. This fecal matter is ideal for farming as it helps plants grow.

“People don’t realize that earthworms are one of the biggest things that break down waste materials and that becomes a fertilizer that has 60 nutrients, minerals and trace minerals,” Hubbard said. “It’s like pure fertilizer.”

As the founder of, Hubbards original goal for One Spark was to raise money for a van that could transport organic waste back to his breeding center in Chicago.

However, since the festival, the JAX Chamber, Mayor Alvin Brown’s office and others have offered their support for Hubbard to build an earthworm factory in Jacksonville.

Hubbard uses storage bins with red worms, African Nightcrawlers and others. He feeds them up to 5 tons of material from restaurants, coffee shops and cafeterias.

He then separates the compost from the worms and sells it to urban farmers and others in need.

“They eat half of their body weight a day,” Hubbard said.

Hubbard said the project could be in motion starting next winter. They expect to hold 10,000 pounds of worms.

You can follow Scott Harrison on Twitter @Sharrison983.