Inside a small greenhouse in North Kingstown, 77-year-old Nancy Warner is knuckle deep in a pile of trash and worms.
“Basically, they'll eat anything that was once alive,” Warner says after flipping over part of an old cantaloupe.
A few minutes later, she is operating heavy machinery.
Although she seems incredibly busy, Warner insists, “The worms do all the work.”
It probably goes without saying, but Warner -- aka The Worm Lady -- is not your average 77-year-old.
“Time to retire!” laughs Warner, who admits she never intended to start a worm farm.
In fact, her red wigglers were actually a fix for another retirement hobby -- they kept the flies away from her angora rabbits.
But when she saw how much they were improving her gardens, she realized these worms were something special.
“Every three months, under the right conditions, they'll double,” Warner said. “That's the other beauty of this product.”
So, several years ago, she and a friend launched The Worm Ladies of Charlestown.
It wasn't long before word spread.
“We had a waiting list,” says Warner. “And it took us months to fill it.”
Warner’s red wigglers sell for $30 a pound.
But, she says their castings -- or byproduct -- are the real money-maker. They're more effective, and safer, than chemical fertilizers.
And one up-and-coming industry is really driving sales.
“Cannabis growers who really like it keep coming back for more,” says Warner.
She says she's now shifting her business to keep up with casting demand, but she's not getting out of the worm game completely. She can't.
“I can't be the worm lady and not sell worms,” laughs Warner.
Warner also loves sharing her knowledge of worms. Right now, she's helping set up a compost site at an organic farmer training facility in North Kingstown.
She’s also hosting an open house at her worm farm on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 251 Exeter Road in North Kingstown.
For more information about the Worm Ladies, or to place an order, click here.