Taking a worms eye view with workshops on worm empathy

Published: 9 November 2016

For those who have never got past the fright of having a wriggly creature dropped down their necks as children worms can have an image problem.

A series of recent workshops at the Easter Bush Campus outside Edinburgh addressed that head on by focusing on the worm’s role as one of the most important organisms in our eco-system. It proved a big success - for researchers and worms alike!

The workshops – designed to create empathy with the iconic earthworm - were run by Leverhulme Trust Artist-in-Residence Andrea Roe.

The aim of the two sessions - hosted by SRUC - was to bring together scientists, researchers and students to allow them to understand the thoughts and environment of the humble worm.

The initial “Sharing Territories” session saw those attending create a personal wormery from recycled materials in order to learn more about worms, sustainability, soil and microorganisms - and hopefully become worm empathetic.

The follow-up “Worm Husbandry” sessions saw the worms later released back into their natural habitat before talks from specialists explained how essential the worm’s role is in relation to our soil and field drainage.

 “The workshops focused on getting a better understanding of earthworms, the iconic organism that everyone associates with healthy soil.

“But they also highlighted the fact that there is a myriad of unseen life - more diverse than a tropical rainforest or a coral reef with more than 10,000 different species in a tiny teaspoon of soil - interacting to support the animals and plants we see above the soil.”

Bryan Griffiths, Professor of Soil Ecology at SRUC’s Crop and Soil Systems

“The session on extending empathy and respect to worms and other creatures we don’t see very often was particularly interesting.

“We gained a deeper knowledge and appreciation of our worms, our vegetable garden, and an insight into soil ecology.”

Sharon Boyd, Lecturer at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies at University of Edinburgh


Source: SRUC


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