Earth (Day) Worms

My son hates worms: he thinks they are like disembodied intestines in shallow graves. As we plant cabbage seedlings on the farm, the quiet evening air is punctuated with his exclamations of “Ew, gross!” and “Sooooo disgusting!”

In some areas, particularly in northern forests, worms are an invasive species that is rapidly destroying the ecosystem, leading to a loss of insects, salamanders, and forest floor plants.

But on our farm, they are incredibly useful—moving nutrients through the soil as they eat and expel leaves and other vegetable matter, loosening and aerating the soil through their movements, and secreting nitrogen-laden slime that helps bind soil particles together.

But I have to admit, they are weird: they breathe through their skin and have up to five hearts. They can regrow amputated tails, but become paralyzed if exposed to light for more than an hour. Perhaps strangest of all is how they reproduce. As hermaphrodites, two worms come together and both produce egg cocoons.

If you will forgive the “earthy” metaphor, this is my hope for the farm again this year: that it will be a place of harmony where we meet and produce something life-giving for ourselves and for our community.

Happy Earth Day!