Of all of the thousands of types of worms, red wigglers are the best for vermi- (worm) composting, Cathy Nesbitt told a group of students in grades 4 to 6 at St. Charles' School.
That's because they are voracious eaters, eating half their own weight in food every day.
Ordinary composting - allowing moisture, warmth and bacteria to break down organic matter into compost - is "boring!" Nesbitt said. Using the red wigglers and vermicomposting is far more fun, once you get over the "yuck" factor.
"I was afraid of worms before I started my business," admitted Nesbitt, who launched Cathy's Crawly Composters several years ago. Now, she's fascinated by the creatures, which have no eyes, no ears, but can sense light and vibration; and which have 5 hearts.
"They're nature's original recyclers," she told the students. "Worms are here to serve us. They're God's gift to Humanity."
The students asked questions, and in answering, Nesbitt exploded a number of myths. Cut a worm in half, and you don't get two worms. With only 1 head and 1 mouth, only the "business" end of the worm will survive, and grow back its tail - but only if enough of the original worm remains.
And, she said, "Worms don't bite - worms don't have teeth. They might just poop on you, though."
The students handled the red wigglers - about 800 worms per pound - and set up a vermicomposting unit, which will remain at the school to compost lunch-time leftovers.
But, warned Nesbitt, "No meat, no dairy, no sauce." Meat and dairy products take too long to digest, leading to unpleasant odors - and the salt and vinegar in some sauces can harm the worms.
"The kids were so wonderful," Nesbitt said after the workshop. "It was really, really high energy - great questions!"
Nesbitt is known for her worm presentations in Ontario schools, but this was "the first time in a long time" that she has come to a Bradford-area school, and shared her passion as Canada's "worm lady."