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NC State Extension


Markets for earthworms and vermicompost are growing, reflecting a worldwide increased interest in vermiculture and vermicomposting.

Vermiculture defined:

Vermiculture is the process of breeding worms. Growers usually pay for their worm feed, and the worm castings (manure) are often considered a waste product.

Vermicomposting defined:

Vermicomposting is the process of turning organic debris into vermicompost. Operators use a wider variety of feedstocks and make money on tipping fees and sales of castings or vermicompost. The earthworm population usually remains stable.

Applications of Vermiculture – Earthworms can be sold to the following markets:

  • Bait and tackle shops
  • Large-scale vermicomposting facilities
  • Worm growers just entering the business
  • Institutions and businesses that do on-site vermicomposting of their food scraps and other organic materials (includes prisons, hospitals, schools, colleges and universities, restaurants, grocery stores, office buildings, etc.)
  • Farmers desiring to vermicompost animal manure (including livestock and poultry farms, rabbitries and horse stables)
  • Composters, organic gardeners or fisherpeople wanting to raise worms for their own use
  • Growers with orders too large to fill from their own stocks
  • Private laboratories, universities, and high schools for research and classroom needs

Businesses that need worms as food for animals:

    • Fish hatcheries
    • Tropical fish stores
    • Pet stores
    • Zoos (w/ exotic fish and birds)
    • Gamebird breeders
    • Frog farmers
    • Poultry growers

Industries with organic wastes suitable as feedstock for worms:

    • Composting facilities
    • Papermills
    • Breweries
    • Cardboard manufacturers
    • Land reclamation sites
    • Generators of sludge/biosolids
    • Food processors
    • Canneries
    • Wineries
    • Cotton mills

Application for Vermicomposting – Sell vermicompost in bulk (by cubic yard) or bagged in a variety of compost and soil blends to the following:

    • Home improvement centers
    • Nurseries
    • Landscape contractors
    • Greenhouses
    • Garden supply stores
    • Grocery chains
    • Flower shops
    • Discount houses
    • General public