In School Composting...   UNDER CONSTRUCTION








Terre-Source works with schools, principals, teachers, custodians, parents, and students to help them develop a sustainable 'Full Circle' program for recycling and recapturing the nutrients in food waste by composting at the school. 

The Environmental Education benefits are immense!  An In-School Composting Program can help teachers provide 'hands on' learning experiences in:

  • ecology,

  • biology,

  • meteorology

  • micro-biology,

  • soil science,

  • horticulture,

  • botany,

  • chemistry,

  • sustainability,

  • nutrition,

  • weights & measures,

  • The Scientific Method and

  • more!  



There are lots of great REFERENCES for vermicompost operations.  Some of my favorites are:

  • "The Worm Cafe: Mid-Scale Vermicomposting of Lunchroom Wastes", by Binet Payne, 1999, Flower Press, Kalamazoo, Michigan.

This book is great!  It's readable and tells a very detailed story about operating a vermicomposting system at a school that includes: plans, diagrams of how to feed & harvest from a simple vermicompost system, worksheets, a bibliography of classroom materials, and a decent index.  If I could only use one vermicompost text, this would be it.


  • "Worms Eat My Garbage", by Mary Appelhof, 1997, Flower Press, Kalamazoo, Michigan

This is the classic reference for vermicompost by the late, great Mary Appelhof.  She, more than anyone I know of, made vermicomposting accessible to regular folk. 


This document is great for the teaching side of a vermicompost system.  There aren't many details about actual operation, but some good handouts, a general overview of the activities needed to run a system, plans for a couple of different worm bins, and worm suppliers in California.                           


  • "Soil Biology Primer", Revised 2000, by Soil and Water Conservation Society, and the USDA NRCS, www.swcs.org

This booklet is not focused on vermicomposting, but has great pictures of the main sweep of critters in the soil and in compost including bacteria, fungi, algae, & bugs!  There are also several good diagrams and explanations of various aspects of the soil food web.

3 Types of Worm Bins:

Biostack, Wooden, & Can O'Worms


Sampling Compost from Crestwood Elementary's Earth Tub






Tamara can help your school start up a collection program and prepare a 'waste audit'.   She can help to evaluate the right system for your school, find the funding for such a system, and can teach operators, teachers and students how to use and optimize your compost technology.

Terre-Source is dedicated to helping schools complete the FULL CIRCLE of food-waste recycling education.  "Full Circle" programs consist of:

consuming food collection composting curing   harvesting applying compost [feeding your soils] growing food harvesting consuming food 

Tamara's academic background in Soil Chemistry, Geotechnical and Environmental Engineering, and environmental outreach provides schools with well thought out approaches to their sustainability programs.  She has a professional engineering license in Washington state and has provided technical assistance to King County Solid Waste Division's pilot composting and Green Schools program for over   5 years.   Recent Earth Tub research performed in collaboration with Washington State University researcher, Andy Bary, is published on WSU's website.    

Tamara currently serves on the Environmental Education Exploration Committee for Mount Vernon School District and continues to contribute to Washington State University's Crop and Soil Science Advisory Council.






   Contact Info :


Tamara N. Thomas, P.E. 

(425) 844-6068   





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