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Worm Farm Portland opens its doors on Highway 240; Croatian native starts business

GARY ALLEN - Worm Farm Portland owner Igor Lochert shows off one of the rich soils the Highway 240 business has for sale.

The Worm Farm Portland is a business that is not exactly what its name implies.

Owner Igor Lochert brought with him to Newberg the idea of a worm farm and partnered with a company from California of the same name. The California company has plenty of worms on hand and The Worm Farm in Newberg has the byproduct of those tiny creatures' efforts: really good soil.

In about two years the Newberg business will begin selling the worms as well.

"The original name came from the company and they have a huge area where they produce their own worms," Lochert said. "That is how everything started and I was always into soil and I liked what they were doing over there and paid a visit, then got hooked. I decided to become more involved with the topsoil and biology and everything that goes with the soil."

An open area of grass will become windrows for worms via a simple process of putting manure and brown products like lawn clippings into a trench (covered to keep out unwanted bugs) or boxes in layers of about six to 10 inches thick. The result is rich worm castings (worm poop) that is valuable for farmers, landscapers and home gardens.

"Worm castings (are) the most precious in the soil. It conserves moisture and improves the soil for happier plants. It is like the caviar in soil," Lochert said. "Worms are really clean and nice creatures. As long as a worm eats, they produce."

The farm is focused on soil of various types, scientifically mixed for different purposes. They offer soil amendments, such as compost, fertilizers, worm castings and peat moss or will make custom blends based on needs.

An example is Gwen's Mix, a popular item that contains 11 different ingredients including perlite, coco coir, worm castings, compost, composted cow manure, chicken manure and bat guano.

"We try to strive with something like the Gwen's Mix for gardens and landscaping. It almost like making Grandma's pie: if you put a little of something that is too much then it won't be right," Lochert explained. "All of our soil contains some type of casting except for the Coco Coir, from the Coco husks. It is fantastic for the soil and irrigation. There is no nutritional value but is a foundation for everything."

Lochert is originally from Croatia and started in the Midwest before slowly working his way west where he landed in California and learned about worm farming and soils.

"What I know is soil …," Lochert said. "We love it here and always wanted to come and stay. I am glad that we were able to work it out."

The company is settling in and preparing the land for worms and mixing soils. Lochert has constructed an area with trees, tables and chairs to enjoy the good weather.

"We are trying to make it cozy here where people can come and sit down and relax. People are welcome," he said.

The Worm Farm Portland is located at 22745 N.E. Highway 240. The wholesale farm has a one yard minimum to purchase and they make deliveries anywhere in Oregon and the southwest Washington.

For more information, call 503-550-7733 or visit www.thewormfarmportland.com.

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