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Posted: Jun 9, 2009  10:35

The Worm Lady of Bonners Ferry


Marciavee Cossette With The Worms She Raises And Loves.

Many of us value the companionship of animals, whether it be canines, felines, fish or birds. However, Marciavee Cossette enjoys working with an altogether different species; she loves worms. Don't laugh. It's true. Marciavee has been raising English Red worms for the last 15 years. Vermiculture, defined as "the use of specially bred worms to convert organic matter to compost," has become one of the passions of her life.

Mariavee's love affair with worms started when she lived in Puyallup, WA. She saw an announcement to go down to the local Extension Office to get worms to use for composting. She built a big worm bin, and, starting with just a handful of worms, has gradually increased the size of her worm population to, in her estimation, well over a million worms.

"I got the biggest kick out of it," she chuckled. "I thought it was great because I could use all of my leftover fruits and vegetables."

In her garage on Serenity Lane, Marciavee has five stacks of bins for a total of 20 layers of worms. She places leftover fruits, vegetables, coffee grounds and a few eggshells in the bins. As Maricavee rotates the positions of the bins, the worms eat the produce and give off worm castings. Marciavee likens these castings to "cocoa powder and water mixed together." There is absolutely no smell; the castings are rich and moist. Marciavee said that they are like compost: full of nutrients for plants.

"Just put a handful of worm castings in a planting hole," she said. "There's nothing better for growing."

The worms also produce liquid fertilizer, which Marciavee sells at the Farmers' Market most Saturdays. The rich, molasses-colored liquid drips out of the worm bins into buckets. Marciavee then transfers the "worm tea" to jars and labels them for sale to use as an all-natural plant fertilizer.

"I don't know how the worms do it," Marciavee said."They produce these worm castings and the liquid just drips constantly out of the bottom bin. When people first hear about it, they are reluctant and ask me what I'm talking about. My liquid worm fertilizer is half rain water and half worm juice."

When asked why she does it, Marciavee replied in her usual vivacious, animated manner. "They're crazy and they're fun," she exclaimed. "My worms are like smiles. If there weren't any worms in this world, there wouldn't be anything. They're like flowers; you can't pass by a flower without smiling and worms are the same way."

In her second season as a vendor of liquid worm fertilizer at the Farmers' Market, Marciavee estimated that she sells about 24 jars a week. She doesn't sell the worms themselves because that would lower her production of worm fertilizer and castings.

Marciavee loves what she does. Aside from her other business, Bonners Business Blooms, and her work as a personal caregiver, she said that raising the worms makes her happy.

"You have to like this or you wouldn't continue doing it," she laughed. "To me, it's amazing! I think I'm returning back to people what God gave me. Of course, Safeway has something to do with it, too. They give me big sacks of leftover fruit and vegetables and I just plow through them. I'd call myself a worm lover, but then, I love all bugs. I guess you could say I've got more worms than brains!"


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