Anne Arundel County officials are offering up not a cup of coffee but a cup of worms to people who attend a garbage forum.
Fifty cups of red wigglers and 50 compost bins will be handed out at the Wednesday workshop to induce people to try backyard composting.
The forum, which begins at 7 p.m. at the Pascal Center of Anne Arundel Community College, is aimed at getting people to understand what happens to their trash and how to generate less to conserve landfill space.
"I wanted it to be a fun event, something people would want to come to. The worms are all that's left," said Anne Pearson, a member of the Citizens Solid Waste Advisory Committee.
Those who take the souvenirs of the waste management forum agree to participate in a survey.
"We want to find out how many people express enough interest to cart this stuff home and try it out, and we want to know how they fare," said Molly Cannon, solid waste program manager.
"We will contact them periodically for about a year," she said.
At last month's Earth Day events, the county gave away 235 composting bins, but no red wigglers.
"The worms are definitely a bonus of the solid waste show," Ms. Cannon said.
The forum will also feature displays about trash reduction and give people a chance to question county officials about trash collection, recycling and other solid waste issues.
The forum comes as county officials are preparing next year's budget and County Executive John G. Gary has proposed raising the residential trash pick-up fee from $158 to $198.
While composting is possible without red wigglers, these particular worms love household trash and speed the process of turning it into soil-enhancing compost.
"You'll find them under rotting logs. They tend to colonize underneath anything that breaks down. They are, indeed, the composting worm," said Carolyn A. Ormsbee, horticulturist for Gardeners Supply Co., a Burlington, Vt., catalog company that does a brisk red wiggler business.
Hers, she said, love tomatoes and crackers but avoid fatty foods.
Wednesday's red wigglers are coming from Mike's Wholesale Bait Co. Inc. in Gambrills, at $1.25 for a cup of 50, said Newth Morris, who heads the advisory panel that will present some of its findings at the session.
Mike Baldea, bait company owner, described the worms as pencil-lead thin and said they reproduce quickly if fed -- helpful since 50 worms alone could not keep up with a family's trash.
Here's the county's recipe:
Three parts of green material -- lawn clippings, weeds, kitchen vegetable matter -- to one part brown material -- leaves, shredded newspaper, straw.
Water occasionally. Stir every two weeks.
People who don't get to the forum can buy red wigglers.
Fishermen do, though red wigglers are more popular bait in southern states than here.
"We sell a right good bit of them," said Rick Warren, owner of Warren's Bait Box in Glen Burnie.
The family business retails "close to 1,000 cups" during the spring season, which is just about over, he said.
That's 30 to a cup for $2.50.
"Occasionally, people do ask for them for composting," Mr. Warren said.