Waste Management
Clean Technologies

REEL WORMS / LIVING GREEN

 

In 2003, Neil Crossan exchanged the rat race for a worm farm. LEADER supported this venture through start-up funding: financing a biomass recycled wood-heating system along with a processing and harvesting unit, aimed at the re-use of worm compost as a peat-reduced general-purpose growing media for the organic market.

This was followed over the next 9 years by further LEADER funding: two expansion grants and a research and development grant. Neil is very grateful for LEADER’s support: “Without the funding we would have never started the business, and the continued funding has allowed me to expand and create more employment.”

Since its foundation, Reel Worms/Living Green has grown into the largest worm farm in Ireland and the UK, and is the only company in Ireland that produces certified organic compost.

When producing worms, a by-product known as ‘worm cast’ is created. Worm cast is an excellent medium for growing plants. The Soil Association in the UK granted organic status to the worm cast produced by Reel Worms.

Neil is glad that he made the leap from being a technical manager in the food industry to running his own eco-business. He says “I always knew that I wanted to work for myself. I feel strongly about the environment, I believe we are what we eat and producing food organically is a big step in the right direction.”

 

Neil’s hard work and self-belief has been recognised: his business has got through to the final stages of the JFC farm innovation awards.

He has sage advice for anyone starting up a green business: “Setting up any business is difficult and probably more so for a green business, so be clear in what you intend to achieve and set realistic targets.”

Reel Worms has developed from breeding worms outdoors to an indoor breeding system which provides protection from the elements. This has been a major turning point since the breeding environment can be controlled, which is critical to the success of the business.

The worm farm is now operated from six buildings, making it the largest worm farm in Ireland. The business supplies fishing tackle shops and small wholesalers across Ireland and England with worms in retail packs or in bulk sacks.

Reel Worms/Living Green helps to sustain its local community in Donegal by providing six jobs and also helps the organic farming sector by providing it with lower-cost higher-quality compost. The business has far exceeded Neil’s initial expectations and he has high hopes for the future, with plans to become a major player in the European market.

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