Zero Carbon Cumbria - Carbon reduction action across the county.

Growing Well volunteers

Vermiculture Cumbria: How worm farming can support reduced waste in the field to fork journey.

Zero Carbon Cumbria are supporting groups in Cumbria to tackle food waste using the not-so-humble worm!

A food waste snapshot:

  • Food waste emits the greenhouse gases (GHG) methane and nitrous oxide that are 31 and 310 times stronger than carbon dioxide, respectively.
  • According to WRAP the UK produces 9.52 million tonnes of food waste per year and emits 25 million tonnes of greenhouse gases (GHG) every year, 5.5% of our total national emissions.
  • Worm farming can reduce GHG emissions by significantly reducing the volume of food waste directed to landfill, and in turn alleviates the necessity for fossil fuel-powered collection vehicles.
  • The consumable food we waste costs the UK £19 billion which adds up to £284 for every single person in the country.
  • The hospitality sector alone tosses £3.2 billion of food away each year.
  • Households alone bin £13.8 billion worth of edible food each year


Here in Cumbria we are piloting “Vermi-Economy”. A circular, sustainable system that can be scaled up – how does it work?
  • Farm Manure Windrows – Address pre-farmgate waste by providing a diversification income for Cumbrian farmers while improving soil quality and reducing the reliance on costly inorganic fertilisers.
  • Vermicomposting units – Reduce hospitality food waste by developing closed loop composting systems at food retail outlets. Vermiculture can be an easy solution to reducing food waste, with the potential to generate an income and cut waste disposal costs and emissions.
  • Distribute the surplus the vermicompost and liquid feed goes back to farms, growing outlets and community gardens


Cumbria Action for Sustainability are working alongside Anna de la Vega who set up Urban Worm CIC .   Anna is a vermiculture expert with years of international experience delivering training and consultancy on vermiculture food waste solutions to tackle thus huge global issue.

To date they have installed at two sites: One at Growing Well’s Low Sizergh site, a windrow demonstration site and a vermicompost bin. The second system is a vermicomposter at Westmorland’s Tebay North Service, where they have also trained staff.

Garden Organic Cumbria Master Composters joined the group at both of these sites. The Cumbria Master Composters spend time promoting home composting in their local community, encouraging householders to take up composting and ensuring those already composting do so effectively

There is funding to offer advice and consultancy time to SME businesses within Cumbria who are interested in vermiculture as a way to reduce food waste and carbon emissions. If you’d like to know more you can read the full story on the CAfS website – or email

If your organisation is taking action to reduce carbon emissions, tell us about it so we can feature it in the news or features sections.

Use the Zero Carbon Cumbria Doing our bit! logo to show that your actions are part of the wider effort to reach net zero in the county.