TROY - The 38th Senior Citizens' Picnic Thursday in Troy featured fun, food, information, activities - and worms.

Donna Johnston, coordinator of the Penn State Master Gardener program for District 4, was on hand to offer information about vermiculture, which is the process of composting with the use of worms.

Carolyn Crow of Troy stopped at Johnston's table to get some information about the practice. She already uses vermiculture, but said she was seeking to "step it up" and improve her methods.

Johnston had fliers explaining how to start a "worm farm," which listed the needed materials and how to care for the worms. Red Wiggler worms are used in the worm farms.

The flier referred people to a website, www.redwormcomposting.com for more information.

The website notes that worm composting "involves the breakdown of organic wastes via the joint action of worms and microorganisms."

According to the website, it's "widely believed that a composting worm can process the equivalent of its own weight in waste each day."

Johnston said that the vermicompost can be used for gardens or potted plants. She said vermiculture is good for senior citizens because it can be done indoors.

She said the worms turn the material themselves. She jokingly called this action "As the Worm Turns."

Sponsored by the B/S/S/T Area Agency on Aging, Inc., the event was held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Alparon Park, with the theme of "Finding Nutrition Close to Home."

This year's event focused on healthy lifestyles. AAA partnered with Penn State Cooperative Extension for the picnic.

Joan Cook, also from Extension, was on hand to teach about lasagna gardening, or gardening in layers, according to Extension Educator Tom Maloney.

He said the information provided by Extension at the picnic tied into the theme of healthy lifestyles because senior citizens can use the tips to raise healthy food.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health also had a table at the picnic, with information on how to "build a healthy plate." Tips included balancing calories, avoiding oversized portions, making half your plate fruits and vegetables, and making half your grains whole grains.

Before noon, Marlea Hoyt, deputy director of the B/S/S/T Area Agency on Aging, Inc., estimated that a little more than 900 senior citizens had showed up for the picnic. She said the weather was cooperating, though it was "a little warm."

"Everybody is having a good time," she said.

Senior citizens from the four-county area served by the AAA, which includes Bradford, Sullivan, Susquehanna, and Tioga, Pa. counties, attend. Hoyt said senior citizens from nursing homes, personal care homes, and the general public come to the event.

Among those attending this year's picnic were 11 residents from Twin Oaks Personal Care Home in Granville Township.

Julia Baglino of Hallstead, Susquehanna County, said she was celebrating her 93rd birthday at the picnic.

When asked what she liked about the picnic, she replied, "everything about it."

Sara Romanik, the New York State Square Dance Callers winner, was on hand as senior citizens danced on the pavement, minding Romanik's commands to "do-si-do."

Merna and Howard Colwell of Mehoopany had fun square dancing, as they moved around to the music. They said they are both ombudsmen, acting as advocates between residents and nursing homes and personal care homes, for the protection of the residents' rights.

Erma Warner and Phyllis Ames represented the Gillett Senior Center at the picnic, and were selling handmade items. Ames said their dish cloths were popular.

"I like watching the people," she said. "It's nice to have something where all the senior citizens can get together."

Bradford County Dairy Princess Lu-Anne Antisdel and alternate dairy princess Brooke Ostrander attended and handed out cheese sticks and recipes.

They had a dairy calf from Hoyt's Dairy Farm in New Albany and were taking suggestions for names for the calf.

"Sweet Thing," "Brownie," and "Sweetie Pie" were among the names contributed by the public.

Eric Hrin can be reached at (570) 297-5251; email: reviewtroy@thedailyreview.com.