RANGELEY – At Fixit Farm, owners Paul and Leslie Ferguson have bolstered their livelihood on one of nature’s most fundamental creatures and what many might identify as a less glamorous species. But for the Fergusons, worms are a welcome addition to their farm. The farm is run strictly by the Ferguson family and is “self-sufficient,” even using waste oil from surrounding restaurants and other donors to heat their greenhouses. Leslie herself came from a background of using the natural resources around her for further benefits.
“My mother was an organic gardener before it was cool. I’m always looking for more organic matter, other than the sources she taught me to use and I stumbled upon worm castings on the internet. I thought there was no reason why we can’t just start making this ourselves,” Leslie explained on the early beginnings of her business.
While Paul had a more suburban upbringing, it’s his “handyman” attitude that lends other repair services to the Fixit Farm and what provided the knowledge to begin their success in selling worm compost. When Leslie first decided to set up a soil-fertilizing shop in her husband’s garage, it was Paul’s tools that allowed them to perform the necessary sifting and sorting functions that keep the worms healthy and the soil at its most nutrient-rich. He designed their first soil test kits as well. Soon, word spread of the Ferguson’s new soil, and friends and family started asking for their product.
“We used to deliver plastic bags of the fertilizer out of our car, but eventually we upgraded to a trailer, and now we deliver out of a full box truck with a lift. But to start, it was back-breaking work,” said Leslie.
According to Leslie, what elevated their business from a small garage shop to the thriving worm castings operation that it is now, was the interest received from the cannabis community beginning in 2013.
“It took off from there. We went to a few agricultural shows and sold out. After that, it was all word of mouth. We didn’t need any advertising,” said Leslie.
Fixit Farm’s organic worm casting soil is sold directly to cannabis retail locations as well as major feed stores such as Fedco Seed Company and Pine Tree Seed. While they sell their own harvested worms, the bulk of their product is the soil itself.
“We call it unscreened bedding. People are looking to create their own living soils so that they can grow what they’d like, whether that’s cannabis or tomatoes. I don’t care what they’re growing, I give them a good product,” said Leslie.
With many turning to homesteading projects during the pandemic, COVID has only increased their already successful business. The business had expanded twice prior to the pandemic, but the growth proved insufficient when the farm was tasked with keeping up with the orders in the past year. Currently, Fixit Farm automatically places all new customers on a waiting list and is booked out with orders until May.
“We always sold out before, but nothing like it was when Covid hit. Suddenly everyone and their brother wanted to grow their own food and medicine. Now, everything we harvest is called for,” said Leslie.
After 10 years of running the farm, Leslie and Paul may be considering selling. Though the business is economically beneficial, it’s also physically demanding and is a major time commitment. If they do sell, Leslie doesn’t have plans of continuing an alternative agricultural business.
“I think I see myself focusing on our own family compound. Just growing our food and taking care of the land. We’re sittin’ pretty. It’s lucrative, but at some point you have to ask yourself what you want to do with your life,” said Leslie.