Doug Shepherd and Linda Leigh live in Oracle, Arizona, where they own and operate the Vermillion Wormery.

Doug and the last of winter’s worm-casting-grown spinach, May 2010

Doug has worked in the medical field for much of his career,  supported by his lifestyle of gardening, birdwatching, and now, vermiculture.  His father was an avid gardener, supplying the family with most of their needs from the fertile Mississippi delta. Doug helped him fill the freezers and then give away the excess food to friends and others in need. Adopting this lifestyle for himself, Doug has been an organic gardener for over 30 years.

The passion for vermiculture entered Doug’s life about 3 years ago when a woman brought her box of red wigglers to the local co-op. He and Linda adopted the worms and fell in love with the system and the process of feeding organic ‘waste’ to worms and harvesting a great product. They began to develop their interest in worms and what the wiggly critters could do to help move them towards their goal of zero organic waste.

Linda, being the scientist, began to tinker with the systems to identify best practices for our Sonoran Desert locale. We’re now expanding our red wiggler herd and share what we’ve learned and the products of worm farming with the public.

Linda and the last of winter’s carrot crop, May 2010

The results of gardening with worms and their castings are truly magnificent, and neither of us would ever dream of gardening without them.  Both the nutrients and microbial diversity of castings and its tea produce intensely vibrant plants and soil in an otherwise extremely challenging desert environment.