Owners hit pay dirt in worm business

BENZIE COUNTY – Every four days, 2,400 pounds of organic waste-from coffee grounds to shredded office paper-is being recycled by over two million worms and creating over 100 tons of the best organic fertilizer available.

Three years ago, Benzie Organic Solutions owners Tim Quick and Howard Kennedy decided to try to raise a few worms for bait and see if there was a market for the worm castings.

"We thought the worm castings would be the main part of the business, but the demand for bait worms was so high that we ended up concentrating on raising worms and selling the castings as we could," explained Kennedy, who now has over two million worms bedded into 1,200 plastic tubs.

They began with family members helping out and have grown into a 3,200 square-foot, temperature-controlled facility with seven seasonal employees working five days a week. They are contracting with 25 bait wholesalers in six states.

"I had no idea there were this many fishermen," chuckled Quick, who also cooks at his family-owned Hungry Tummy Restaurant in Beulah, as does Kennedy.

Their worms are European crawlers, which the company purchases from farmers in Holland and then they bed, fatten and gather the eggs.

They are working on incubating worms and are hoping to produce 30 percent of the more than half a million worms they sold last year.

The can be reached at 231-383-1981 or benzieorganicsolutions.com.