Compost junkies have opened a whole new can of worms on campus – literally.

A sustainability program operating out of Ellison Hall is selling the nutrient-rich mulch of organic soil to local gardeners. The Ellison Hall Sustainability Committee – an organization composed of staff, faculty and students – sells the worm castings and “worm tea” as part of its overarching goal to reduce the environmental footprint of the campus facility. Worm castings – solid worm excrement – are on sale for $3, while “worm tea,” an organic liquid fertilizer made from the soil’s drainage, is priced at $4.

According to UCSB sustainability coordinator Katie Maynard, since the compost program started two years ago, an increasing number of students and staff members have been willing to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty.

“When we first implemented the compost sales, even students within the organization were not particularly excited,” Maynard said. “It wasn’t until they saw geography professor Dr. Keith Clarke’s worm tea-fed roses in bloom that they jumped on board.”

Furthermore, Maynard said, the worm offal is completely organic and contains no pesticides or basting additives, making it the perfect fertilizer for supporting homegrown produce.

“It’s all-natural,” Maynard said. “All the by-products come straight out of the compost bins and the bins are a simulated ecosystem in themselves.”

Still, some UCSB students said they feel compost serves little purpose in the life of Isla Vista residents on a college budget.

“Why the hell would I buy compost?” Erica Thoe, a third-year political science and communication major, said. “I can barely afford to feed myself. I’m not about to blow, like, five bucks on worm turds.”

It is not that students don’t approve of Ellison’s efforts to go green, Eddie Avakoff, a fifth-year film & media studies] major, said. The problem, he said, is that he simply has no use for fertilizer.

“I don’t really know what I would do with it,” Avakoff said. “I mean, I support the cause, but who’s really going to buy this stuff?”

For those unaccustomed to getting down and dirty, Maynard said, the committee offers classes on Fridays from 2 to 4 p.m. so that interested students can discover their green thumbs.

“Anyone can come, whether you have plants or not,” Maynard said. “We want food lovers, rose lovers and potted plant lovers to learn they can be worm lovers too.”