Arlene Marturano

Local students make fertilizer with help from rabbits

Gardening with kidsJune 13, 2013 

Preslee Frye is in charge of quality control for Bunnies' Brew


The lazy days of summer are for making sun tea and sipping iced tea. But at Barclay School on Columbia College campus the students brew another type of tea, an organic manure tea for plants. The tea is made in partnership with the school’s pair of rabbits, Toby and Ginny, who are nicknamed the Poo Masters.

Throughout the year, students and teachers at Barclay are developing a variety of instructional gardens and outdoor classrooms decorated with student-made art forms. Daisy, the resident dog, is always within reach.

The school models recycling. So the idea of recycling Toby and Ginny’s rabbit droppings seemed a natural progression. Besides, when you have more than enough of a good thing, you want to share it with others.

Rabbit manure is a rich source of nitrogen and phosphorus, two nutrients plants need for strong root systems, healthy foliage and plenty of flowers. Hence, the enterprise of brewing and bottling rabbit tea was born.

Once a recipe for rabbit manure liquid fertilizer was made, students steeped it in pails of rain barrel water outdoors in sunlight. They needed containers to store the tea. Wine bottles seemed the best option not only because local restaurants could donate them in quantities but also because they catch the eye of consumers and connoisseurs.

To market and advertise rabbit manure tea they needed a brand name. Bunnies’ Brew was selected. Students call themselves the Brew Masters.

Each student has a specific task in the production process. All students gather outdoors once a week to wash and take the old labels off of the wine bottles. When bottles look like new, brew is funneled into each. New Bunnies’ Brew labels are glued to the bottles followed by a signature cottontail rabbit tail. Labels include directions and ingredients without giving away any poo master or brew master secrets. Students’ hand-signed tags are placed around the neck of the bottle. Bottles are corked and sealed with wax.

After the bottles pass quality control inspection, they are packed in cases for distribution by Barclay Green Goods, the official company name for the student-run business. Profits from the business go directly to the school’s field trip fund.

If you think Bunnies’ Brew might be just your cup of tea, three garden centers in Columbia sell it: Gardener’s Outpost on Woodrow in Shandon, Hay Hill Garden Market on Bluff Road and Millcreek Greenhouses on Leesburg Road.

Rosarians like rabbit tea for their rose beds. The tea can be applied to the soil around outdoor and indoor plants, used as a foliar spray, used as a dip for the roots of transplants and sprinkled into your vermicomposting bins.

You may also obtain Bunnies’ Brew at the processing plant, Barclay School at 4702 Colonial Drive when they resume school after summer break.

Arlene Marturano is an educator, consultant, master gardener, and freelance writer. Read more of Arlene Marturano’s garden writings at and www.scgarden

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