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Ulster, Ireland; Man Worms His Way To The Top E-mail
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Sunday, 25 June 2006
Ulster, Ireland; Man Worms His Way To The Top


The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland)

By Philip Bradfield

A CO Down man has branched out on his own with an innovative business idea, ‘worm farming’.

Michael Flanagan, from Castlewellan, has around 150,000 worms at any one time and has a growing number of customers in angling circles around Co Down.  One of his major customers in England even resells them into the pharmaceutical industry.

He said: "I worked for about seven years in horticulture and got a few NVQs, but I started to see that the fertilizer we used had a lot of additives. I did a bit of research and found that earthworms made natural compost and decided to go out on my own.”

Now up and running for a year, he recently won the title of Co Down Young Entrepreneur of the Year with Shell Livewire, pocketing a pounds 250 prize.

The worms he specializes in are not native, but originate in England and go by the scientific name Dendrobaena.

"They have a long life on the hook for anglers, are a good tough worm and breed quite well in our climate,” he said. “At the moment, I am going around to all the local anglers, but I have a guaranteed buyer in England, who is also a worm farmer but just can't get enough. He resells them to anglers and even to pharmaceuticals who are working on a cure for asthma.”

Michael is also keen to promote the idea of the home wormery, a plastic bin kept in the home for worms to recycle household rubbish into compost. “It doesn't smell at all,” he says.

His 150,000 worms are kept in beds of soil 1m deep by 2m by 25m long and their natural processes give plenty of high-quality natural compost, which he sells along with mulch.

“At first, a few heads turned when they heard what I was doing, but it is all natural and people are coming around to that way of thinking.”

“I am getting married next year and my fiance can't get enough of them. At first she wasn't so sure, but now she gets her gloves on and gets stuck in.”

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