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Chicago Master Gardener

A blog for Chicago Master Gardeners providing information on volunteer opportunities, training, workshops and resources.

Vermicomposting Symposium: Springfield, Illinois

Posted by Ron Wolford -

February 6, 2006

Northfield Inn and Suites

2006 Vermicomposting Symposium

This is the third vermicomposting symposium to be held in Illinois. The comments and requests from past participants have helped shape this year's agenda. The practical side of using vermicomposting in gardening will be offered by a Master Gardener, along with how to set-up and maintain a single worm bin. Research conducted in Australia demonstrating the effectiveness of using vermicompost and straw as a mulch in vineyards and cherry orchards will be presented. This symposium is a forum for sharing vermiculture information, promoting vermiculture, stimulating the vermicompost market, and bringing together business people, educators, and vermiculturists so that everyone can benefit from learning about this excellent organic soil amendment.

Presenters: Will Allen, Executive Director of Growing Power, Inc., Milwaukee, Wisconsin, will be the keynote speaker. Mr. Allen has taught vermiculture to hundreds of people at the Growing Power facility.

Katie Webster, founder of EcoResearch in Adelaide, Australia, will present, via web cast, on researching the benefits of using vermicompost on vineyards and cherry orchards.

Chad Hurley, New Horizon Organics, Bunker Hill, will speak about the various species of worms that can successfully be used in vermicomposting.

Andilee Warner, SIU-Carbondale and Jeff Nichols, Sara Bush Lincoln Health System in Mattoon will describe the process and steps taken to start their vermicomposting programs at the university and hospital.

Julie Hughes, Master Gardener from Potomac, will discuss the importance of vermicomposting, how using vermicompost can improve garden growth and productivity, and how to start your own worm bin.

The Vermicomposting Symposium will be providing a livewebcast for those unable to attend. To view the livesymposium online go to the DCEO, Small Business Development Center webcastportal. Instructions for participating in a web castcan be found at

Mary Appelhof Scholarships To Be Awarded

Five scholarships which will be awarded in 2006 will be named in honor of Mary Appelhof who passed away in May 2005. Mary Applehof was an internationally recognized author and vermicomposter and presented at the 2004 and 2005 Vermicomposting Symposiums in Springfield. Whether Mary was explaining carbon and nitrogen molecules or tossing tee shirts into the audience, she was an inspiring teacher. Mary's curiosity about nature and infectious laugh make her dearly missed by people from Kazakhstan to Kalamazoo.

At the 2005 symposium donations were made to establish a scholarship fund. The contributions will allow five applicants to attend in 2006. To receive a scholarship each applicant is to write a paragraph on why they would like to attend and why they are requesting a scholarship. A panel will score the applications and five scholarships will awarded. The scholarship request should be sent in with a registration form.

FREE Field trips to New Horizon Organics, Inc., one of the largest vermicomposting facilities in the nation on February 5 and 7.

Vermicomposting Symposium


2005 was the first year with vermicomposting exhibits. The response was very positive so exhibitors are invited back in 2006. If your business or organization relates to vermicomposting or gardening, please plan to exhibit at the symposium. Mark the box on the registration form and we will send you the Exhibitors Packet. The space is $75.00 which includes one registration. If you have any questions concerning exhibiting, please call 217/498-9707.

FREE Field Trip

There are two opportunities to visit new Horizon Organics, Inc., located in Bunker Hill, Illinois on Route 159. This is a large-scale, fully operational vermicomposting facility with over 6 tons of worms. Plan to spend at least two hours touring the worm farm.

Lunch will not be provided on February 5 or 7.

Please mark your day preference on the attached registration form.

Sunday, February 5, meet in the Northfield Inn & Conference Center parking lot near Xochimilco Mexican Restaurant at 12:00 noon and caravan to the worm farm, arriving around 1:30 PM.

On Tuesday, February 7, meet in the Northfield Inn & Conference Center parking lot near Xochimilco Mexican Restaurant at 10:00 AM, and again, caravan to the worm farm, arriving at 11:30 AM.

Symposium Site

The Northfield Inn, Suites & Conference Center is located at 3280 Northfield Drive, in Springfield, Illinois. Take the Sangamon Avenue Exit (100B) off I-55. At the intersection of Sangamon Avenue and Dirksen Parkway, turn north on Dirksen, and then make a sharp right (east) onto Northfield Drive. Directions to the Center are on the web site at


A block of rooms has been reserved for symposium attendees at the Northfield Inn, Suites & Conference Center. For more information call the center at (217) 523-7900 or visit the web site listed above.

Sponsored by a partnership of...

Illinois Department of Commerce

and Economic Opportunity

Illinois Department of Agriculture

City of Springfield

Division of Waste and Recycling

Illinois Stewardship Alliance

For more information contact:

Brett Ivers

DCEO, Bureau of Energy and Recycling

Illinois Sustainable Education Project

(217) 524-5859

Vermicomposting Symposium Registration

Name ______________________________________ Please check the following:

Organization/Business_________________________ __Vegetarian lunch __Omnivore Lunch

City, State, Zip ______________________________ __Will attend the 5 pm reception on Feb. 6

Phone No. __________________________________ __Will go to the worm farm on 2/5 at noon

Email ______________________________________ __Will go to the worm farm on 2/7 at 10 am

Exhibitor packet needed ___ yes ___ no __ Scholarship application enclosed

My interest in vermicomposting is (please circle all that apply)

Organic farming Viticulture Golf Course Maintenance Home Gardener

Orchard Management Worm Grower/Castings Producer Greenhouse/Nursery

Master Gardener Landscapers Teacher/educator Other __________

Please make your registration check for $35 payable to Illinois Stewardship Alliance.

Mail payment and completed registration form to: Illinois Stewardship Alliance, P.O. Box 648, Rochester, IL 62563

Cost at the door, day of the event, is $50.

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