By Emily Neie, Development and Communications Intern
Halloween brings the return of all things creepy and spooky—gummy crawlers inch across cakes decorated to look like muddy cemeteries, cooked spaghetti masquerades as a bucket of worms in a haunted house, and worm-eaten zombies rise from their graves in suburban front yards. But this October, PeopleVet graduate Monica Baietti-Schniebs will show the Austin community that worms are more valuable as organic farming resources than holiday decorations with the launch of her agricultural startup, The Worm Doctor.
Monica has known that she wanted to run her own business since she was a child, and pursued higher education to achieve that dream. She has a degree in Communication Studies as well as a Master’s in Education, and is a Texas certified teacher. She enlisted in the Air Force after she completed her undergraduate degree and spent seven years as an Africa Intelligence Analyst. Her passion for education and global service, dedication to an organic and healthy lifestyle, and supportive marriage led her on a three-year adventure towards worm-farming.
The Worm Doctor’s mission is to help educate communities on the benefits of an organic lifestyle and provide agricultural products that do not contain harmful pollutants and toxic chemicals. Monica plans to incubate and harvest worms for agricultural purposes, and market their by-products as environmentally sustainable and safe alternatives to conventional fertilizers and pesticides.
“Most people in America don’t understand the benefits of worms,” says Monica. “Worm by-products stimulate the microbial activity in the soil, creating a healthy environment for crops to be sown.”
Monica saw a need in the local Austin community, and filled it. “Currently, the demand for worms and worm by-products far outstrips the supply,” she says. Austinites are known for their dedication to food sustainability and an organic lifestyle, and Monica is confident that, when word gets out, she will not be able to keep her product on the shelves. She is currently the only known local worm-farmer, and, in a community that prizes its local business and entrepreneurs, she is excited about the possibility for growth. She plans to attend Kerr County Market Days to set up an educational booth about the benefits of worms and an organic lifestyle, and to get people interested in her products. To learn more about her products and mission, visit Monica’s website.
Monica is a graduate of PeopleVet, PeopleFund’s program for entrepreneurs that have honorably served in the military. The PeopleVet program features mentorship, classroom instruction, and, upon completion of the program, access to a flat, 5% interest rate loan. The three month curriculum focuses on personal credit, business plan development, financial management, accounting, sales, and marketing. For more information, visit the PeopleVet website.