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Perham school taking green to the extreme with worm farm plan

"Green" to the extreme.

That's the direction the Perham-Dent schools are heading, with a wide range of environmentally-friendly initiatives--including a "worm farm."

The school's boiler room will be the location of the "vermiculture bed," where worms will be "fed" kitchen scraps and cardboard. The composted soil produced will be used in the school greenhouse, which will be constructed this spring.

The worm farm composting project is one of several that the school is implementing under the "Schools Cutting Carbon" program, reported Superintendent Tamara Uselman at the March 16 school board meeting.

Cutting carbon is an ongoing effort that school administrators hope becomes an "operational habit."

Composting units are also planned for the kitchens at Perham's Prairie Wind Middle School and Heart of the Lakes Elementary School.

Other examples of the school's "green team" efforts:

---Custodial staff and cleaners are now mixing their own, non-toxic cleaning solutions from bulk ingredients. The cleaning concoctions will be used throughout all school campuses.

---Staff and administration have cut paper use "phenomenally," said Uselman.

---Plastic utensils are no longer used in the lunch rooms.

---All lights have been re-fitted to the most energy efficient fixtures.

---A small, electric vehicle has been purchased for deliveries.

---Heating and cooling has been zoned to limit to occupied spaces. Cooling temperatures have been increased to 74 degrees, and heat temp has been reduced to 69.

---Plastic bottle recycling bins have been placed throughout the campus.

---Removed 100 mini refrigerators.

---Switched from paper paychecks to electronic paychecks.

---Otter Tail County has placed a large recycling dumpster on the school campus. Now the dumpsters will be placed at all schools in the county.

This spring, the vocational-ag department will be building a greenhouse--a project that has been in the works for more than a year.

Along with the greenhouse installation, the plan is to have district-wide composting--for all paper, milk cartons, hand towels, food waste and, possibly, even biodegradable lunch dishes. The compost will then provide soil for the greenhouse.