There is a type of garden specialist that lives in cardboard, happily eats scraps and turns garbage into a valuable product. You just have to get past the fact that he's squirmy and slimy.
You'll also have to accept that the valuable end product comes out of the creature's end. To put it less delicately, the prize is worm poop.
Red wigglers - a type of worm that fishermen use to bait hooks - are tireless eating machines that can be used in vermicomposting. This is the practice of caring for worms in order to harvest their "castings" for use as a natural fertilizer and soil amendment.
Tim Wheeler, owner of Durango Coffee Co. retail store, and vermicomposting expert Jennifer Craig have teamed up to create a business around vermicomposting called Durango Compost Co. Wheeler and Craig are joint owners. He owns the coffee grounds that are used to feed the worms. Craig manages the worms, sells castings and home bins, and works to educate the public about the practice.
"The goal was to turn what has been a cost into revenue - turn waste into money," said Wheeler.
"But a larger reason for the company is that I have an aversion to the idea of waste. A large percentage of garbage can be composted. I don't want my used coffee grounds to go to the landfill."
Craig, who has experience in international agriculture and created a presentation on vermicomposting for the 1998 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival event in Florida said this business is something she's wanted to do for a long time.
"It's the simplest way to deal with organic waste," she said.
The wiggly workers have survived fire and flood. The 700 block of Main Avenue fire in February flooded the next-door basement, where 15 worm bins were kept. Craig rescued them and moved them to their present location - a 1,000-square-foot basement of a Durango Coffee Co. employee's home.
The company, which formed in June and received a business license and special-use permit from the city in August, is shaping a line of products, services and education.