The Women's circle of Espumpuja gathered around Jose, an agronomist, who arrived in their community to teach them how to produce compost. He pulled a small plastic box full of worms and dumped them in the box of dirt, egg shells and coffee grounds. The women began to laugh nervously when they saw the worms and backed away from the new compost. "Watch out, they might bite you!" joked some of the women. Jose explained that the worms weren't dangerous; they would live in the plastic box that was full of food scraps and eventually convert it into nutrient-enriched compost. The women could then use the compost in their new greenhouse or in the tree nursery.
The women understood the value of these worms, as well as how to begin the process of producing their own compost. They told Jose that they looked forward to the day when the compost could replace the chemicals that they use on their small vegetable plots. Dona Carmen, a community leader and Board member of AMA, thanked AMA for coordinating the workshop with Jose and noted, " Our ancestors used compost to grow healthy crops so why are we using chemicals? In Espumpuja, we are no longer able to grow beans because they can't survive the harsh effects of the pesticides. I have the hope that these little worms will help us remember the methods of our grandparents, which will better the health of our children and our environment."
The new composting project of the Sustainable Health Program of AMA has benefited four different Women's Circles. The project is free for the women, as long as they give a lesson on worm composting, as well as their compost start-up box to a neighbor or friend.