Honda Motorwerks made a donation Tuesday to an area sustainability initiative, giving an electric vehicle to help a Hillview Agriculture Center program that turns food waste into fertilizer. A Columbia Summit SMT-4 Neighborhood Electrical Vehicle (NEV) was given to the Vermicomposting Center on Mayo Clinic's campus.
"We like to be involved in local organic events," said Chris Schneider, President of Honda Motorwerks. "This electric vehicle that we've donated comes from Reedsburg, Wisconsin and it could be using energy from or wind energy right here in the Coulee Region."
Over the past 7 years, the vermicomposting center has taken 47,000 tons of food waste from Mayo Clinic, UW-La Crosse, and Western Tech and turned that into 10,000 tons of fertilizer using worms.
"Vermicomposting in short is just like a composting pile except we use a more biologically based process," said UW-L senior Jeremy Shimetz. "We get the compost from the worms actually breaking down the food material and we use their waste product as a fertilizer."
"When I first heard about it, I thought, 'Gee, I never thought you could take food scraps, feed them to worms, get the waste, and you have some fantastic fertilizer,' so what a nice cycle and it's great that we can facilitate that," said UW-La Crosse Chancellor Joe Gow.
That program keeps food waste out of the landfill and puts it back in area gardens to grow more.
"Providing the community with the means to make their own food is the best way to inspire clean eating and healthy eating," said Shimetz.
Before the affectionately named "Worm Mobile", students used their own cars to transport waste.
"Unfortunately, that cut out a large amount of people that might have been interested simply because they didn't have their own transportation," Shimetz said.
With this new electric vehicle, more students can save on gas while keeping waste out of the landfill. One more thing many involved are excited about, each vehicle used to transport the food waste was usually a regular combustion car. Since the "Worm Mobile" is electric, it reduces that carbon footprint, aligning more so with the sustainability efforts that the vermicompost center works toward.
VermiGold -- the fertilizer produced from the compost center -- is available for purchase. You can find it at local businesses like the People's Food Co-op.