Transformations at Red Wiggler Community Farm


In the early ‘90s, Woody Woodroof started an organic vegetable garden at the Arizona group home where he worked. In doing so, he was introduced to red wiggler worms, which are excellent for breaking down compost and transforming infertile soil into something conducive to growing food.

Woodroof was struck by the parallels between transforming soil and transforming people. He knew there was a need for more meaningful, connected, inclusive jobs for the disabled adults with whom he worked.

In 1996, Woodroof launched Red Wiggler Community Farm, a 12-acre certified organic farm in Germantown, in 1996. Sixteen adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities comprise the core crew.

“The metaphor (of the worms),” he said, “is about transforming people through job development, job skills, inclusion in the community - not about people's disabilities, but about what they do, what they produce.”

 Today, the mission of Red Wiggler is “to be a sustainable farm where people with and without developmental disabilities come together to work, learn and grow healthy food.”

“Everyone comes to the table with skills,” Woodroof said. “Find out what they’re good at, focus on those things. Here, some people are really good at one thing. We also try to push their edge a little bit by challenging them to do a couple of other things.” (Next) 

About the Author: Terri Carr is a Washington, DC yogi and writer. She blogs at Yoga Soulutions