Corrections or additions?
This column was prepared for the November 17, 2004 issue of U.S. 1
Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Between the Lines
Last week’s cover story wins the "It’s a Small World" prize for this
year. Our November 10 cover, "Pay Dirt," featured Tom Szaky’s company,
Terracycle, which transforms redworm excrement into organic fertilizer
and packages it in recycled bottles.
Five days later we received an E-mail from Naomi Dagen Bloom, who had
been mentioned in a November 2 New York Times article about urban worm
composting. A psychotherapist, Bloom graduated from Oberlin in 1955,
and she and her husband, Ron, had been on the faculty at Morgan State
University. But when they retired to Manhattan and no longer had a
back yard to recycle food waste, she began freezing her garbage and
driving it back to Baltimore. Then she heard about a vermicompost lot
in New York City.
"So I took my frozen garbage on the subway," she writes in free verse
on her web page (www.cityworm.com). "Long ride, knees got cold. Four
years ago the big leap — one pound of my own red wiggler worms (male
and female in same worm, very New York). Put them in a beautiful
handmade wooden box with torn-up New York Times. Watched them,
Mothered them, Very therapeutic . . . wonderfully obsessive."
How did Bloom hear about Tom Szaky? That’s the hard-to-believe part.
It seems she regularly travels to Princeton for dental appointments
with Neil Melker, her husband’s nephew, and she found the November 10
issue in Melker’s waiting room at Princeton Professional Park. She
"Visiting the dentist in Princeton, I was stopped in my tracks by
the ‘Pay Dirt’ cover story, swiped it, read it in the car as spouse
drove us back to Manhattan.
"Awesome. Now can we get him to tackle the larger issue of
recycling garbage in your town and mine? I’ve sent the link to the
article to Mary Appelhoff at www.wormwoman.com in Kalamazoo,
Michigan, so it’s probably making its way across the country and
around the world by now. Thanks for the inspirational moments."
In 2001 Bloom had put together a composting installation at Queens
Botanical Garden called "This Dirt Museum: the Ladies’ Room." She
writes on her website, "Who knew that bringing tiny, red wiggler worms
into my apartment would become an art form? Compost took over my life.
I gave it to street trees in New York City, invented the world’s
smallest kitchen composter, Worm-Warec, an adorable little portable
recycler. And I went on to make beads, buttons, masks from compost.
Creativity in the 3rd Age is what all my work is about."
Though Bloom considers herself the "Sweetheart of Kitchen Composting,"
she refers to her colleague in Michigan, Mary Appelhoff, as "Worm
Queen." Appelhoff has been a worm composting pioneer for 30 years, and
she publishes and distributes composting products and books.
We called Terracycle to ask if Szaky had referred to Appelhoff’s
research when he launched his company. Yes, Szaky owns a copy of
Appelhoff’s seminal book, "Worms Eat My Garbage." Published in 1982,
the book has sold 175,000 copies.
The story ends on a poignant note: Bloom — who used to take her worms
with her on her travels — had to close her own household worm farm
because, inexplicably, it became infested with the worms’ mortal
enemies: fruit flies. Now she is on the hunt for new ways to explore
The new numbers for Terracycle, after its move to Terracycle, are
609-393-4252; fax, 609-393-4259.
The Coalition for Peace Action number for the November 14 conference
was incorrect. The correct number is 609-924-5022.
Corrections or additions?
This page is published by PrincetonInfo.com
— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.