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A Slippery Business


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A slippery business

Thursday, 15/02/2007

Bait worms are necessity to almost every river fisherman or woman - but have you ever thought about who farms them?

Until the start of this week, most of the tubs of worms found in many of the fishing shops and service stations in South Australia's Riverland were farmed by Don and Aileen Pittman from Renmark.

They started the business after their sons started bringing home a few worms after their fishing trips and would throw them in a heap in the backyard.

They started getting demand from a local service station and they extended their operation.

It built up to such a big business that they were selling 27,000 tubs of worms a year. Each tub contained 75 worms.

But after almost 16 years of worm farming, they've handed over their shovels and dirt to Orana Enterprises, which provides variety of employment and training options to people with intellectual disabilities.

But what are Aileen and Don going to do now they've sold up the farm? Ironically, they're not fishing. In fact, despite owning a worm farm for so many years, they were never fisherpeople. They never had time because the weekends were so busy supplying bait to everyone else.

This week they were busy teaching the workers at Orana how to be worm farmers.

It was a hive of activity in the sorting shed where a group of six were sifting through piles of dirt which had been removed from the worm farm beds.

The workers were required to sort out the bigger, juicier worms into buckets which would eventually be placed in small tubs for sale.

Dave Glen is one of the supervisors at Orana. He said the group had been looking for another business for some time to provide the workers with another alternative to their other operations. They include propagating native trees, sowing netting bags for citrus fruit which are sold in supermarkets and bagging kindling for household fires in the winter.

Mr Glen said the worm farm work was a new experience for many and although initially dubious about sorting through the muddy soil for worms, they're now all quite excited about it.


Edited by MallacootaPete
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