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The Topic

December 4, 2008


Composting worms squirm onto big screen at festival

By Sandra Bolan

Red wigglers will be crawling across the big screen when the documentary Squirm: The Story of Cathy's Crawly Composters debuts at the Green Reel Film Festival in January.

The film's director and writer, Darcy Hoover, followed Bradford West Gwillimbury's Cathy Nesbitt, who is the owner and operator of the vermicomposting company, for a year, filming her presentations and demonstrations at farmers' markets, schools and the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair.

"She's a local hero for York Region and beyond," Mr. Hoover said. "I thought what she was doing was really important."

While Ms Nesbitt couldn't be happier with the final result of the film, Mr. Hoover wasn't her first choice to direct it - it was Michael Moore.

For a few years, Ms Nesbitt knew she wanted to make a documentary about vermicomposting.

"I want to raise additional awareness about the magic of these worms and how they're going to play an increasing role in waste management," she said.

Ms Nesbitt tried to get the most vocal activist known to documentary filmmaking to direct it to ensure her message would be heard, but Ms Nesbitt and Mr. Moore were never able to connect, so the search for a different director was on.

Ms Nesbitt was a vendor at the 2007 Green Reel Environmental Film Festival. Each year, the festival features environmentally-themed documentaries from around the world.

It was there that Mr. Hoover heard about Ms Nesbitt's desire to have a documentary made about vermicomposting.

Since it appeared Michael Moore was otherwise occupied, Mr. Hoover, a film school graduate, offered to direct the documentary.

Mr. Hoover is also the marketing and program director for Vaughan's City Playhouse theatre, which is where the film festival takes place every year.

"For me, that was much better, because it was a Canadian environmentalist (directing) instead of an activist," Ms Nesbitt said.

From mid-2007 to mid-2008, Mr. Hoover followed Ms Nesbitt everywhere.

"He just told me to go do what I do and leave the filming to him," she said.

The result is a 43-minute documentary! educational film:

"It's the kind of film that every library and school should have," Mr. Hoover said.

"I think he's done an amazing job of capturing the essence of what I want to get out," Ms Nesbitt said.

Prior to committing to the film, Mr. Hoover wanted to actually attempt verrnicomposting himself, so he bought some worms and the composter from Ms Nesbitt and gave it a go.

"It was difficult at first, because we started it in the dead of winter and we over-fed the worms," he said.

Because Ms Nesbitt offers a lifetime of service to her clients, she helped Mr. Hoover get through the winter and well on his way to being a successful verrnicomposter.

"It's dead easy and I recommend it," he said.

Squirm: The Story of Cathy's Crawly Composters, debuts Jan. 16 at 11:30 a.m. at the Green Reel Environmental Film Festival.

For more information on the festival, visit


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Cathy's Crawly Composters

Bradford, Ontario
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