2021 Newsmaker: Luis Chen Aguilera

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Luis Chen Aguilera

Owner

Wormies

Wormies, a startup composting business that specializes in vermicomposting or composting with worms, in 2021 began venturing into the cannabis industry.

Luis Chen Aguilera, owner of Wormies, began partnering with cannabis businesses to provide enriched soil mixes and utilizing their composting processes to provide sustainable solutions for cannabis growers.

Wormies uses food scraps to produce organic, microbe-rich fertilizer for gardeners and an emerging industry of cannabis home-growers. Aguilera said Wormies has diverted from landfills more than 750 cubic yards of waste, including food scraps, from over 300 households and businesses in Grand Rapids in the three-and-a-half years it has been operating.

The food scraps are fed to worms, which then turn them into probiotic-rich worm castings and are then sold as organic fertilizer.

Conventional composting is thermophilic, Aguilera said, meaning the bacteria thrive in extreme temperatures. Wormies uses thermophilia, but to add value to its product, it adds a mesophilic, or moderate-temperature step to the process, so the worms can survive in a pile.

The probiotic bacteria in the guts of the worms comes out through their castings, including growth hormones and enzymes to protect the plants from predators.

Keeping worms for composting comes with many variables, Aguilera said. Climate, source materials and inputs all factor into the quality of the finished product.

“The way I keep my worms is not the way someone in Florida would keep their worms,” Aguilera said. “I figure that’s one reason why this industry is not very big. It’s not standardized.”

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