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4.6: Food System Energy Issues Add to Collection

Sunflowers in Grand Isle grown for biodiesel production. Photo: VSJF

Major productivity gains in America’s food system have been made through the increased availability and use of non-renewable energy sources. Food system activities consume a lot of energy, “from the manufacture and application of agricultural inputs, such as fertilizers and irrigation, through crop and livestock production, processing, and packaging; distribution services, such as shipping and cold storage; the running of refrigeration, preparation, and disposal equipment in food retailing and food service establishments; and in home kitchens.” The USDA reports that food-related energy use increased from 12.2% of national energy use in 1997 to 14.4% in 2002, and was an estimated 15.7% of use in 2007. 

Across the state, Vermonters are stepping up to create a new vision of the future premised on the relocalization of food and energy production. A wide variety of technical assistance providers, renewable energy businesses, and funding sources are helping farmers and other food system businesses install renewable energy systems and become more energy efficient.

This section is currently being written by the Energy Crosscutting Team.



Search the Atlas: Find food system renewable generation sites and support organizations. -Show Categories


Resources

Taylor and Nick Meyer in a field of sunflowers at North Hardwick Dairy.
Photo: Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund.

North Hardwick Dairy

Everyone in the Hardwick area knows the North Hardwick Dairy —“it’s the one on the hill with the wind turbine.” The turbine is evidence of farmer Nick Meyer’s focus on meeting his goal of greater self-sufficiency. “I want to produce everything the farm needs on the farm.” The higher and relatively stable…

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Harvesting wheat; bagging croutons.
Photo: David Caccavo

Olivia's Croutons

Olivia’s Croutons has grown from a small, home kitchen operation—where 20 bags was a large order—to occupying an 8,000 square foot facility in a renovated barn in New Haven that ships to stores across the US. While the move to the new facility was prompted by a need for a…

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Grazing cattle on a cloudy day.
Photo: Maple Wind Farm.

Maple Wind Farm

At Maple Wind Farm in Huntington, the beef cattle “harvest their own feed,” as farmer Bruce Hennessey likes to say. They’re grass-fed cattle, meaning that for six and sometimes seven months of the year they eat grass on pasture, using their own energy to walk around and fatten themselves. Bruce, who…

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Monument Farms Dairy in Weybridge.
Photo: Monument Farms Dairy.

Monument Farms Dairy

Monument Farms Dairy began in 1930 as a home delivery route run by Richard and Marjory James in the Weybridge area. Today, the company is managed by their grandson Jon Rooney and two of his cousins, Bob James and Pete James. And their responsibilities are doled out equally, just as you’d…

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McKnight Farm solar array in East Montpelier.
Photo: Catamount Solar

Solar Energy on a Dairy Farm

Prepared by Alex DePillis, Senior Agricultural Development Coordinator, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets Highlights: 95 kW (AC) of installed capacity ● ≈120,000 kWh generated annually ● Payback period = 6 years ● Fixed rack solar PV systems and trackers are common throughout Vermont Download the pdf. McKnight Farm, an organic dairy…

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Guascor engines are commonly used with methane digesters in Vermont.
Photo: Vermont Agency of Agriculture

Digester on a Dairy Farm

Prepared by Alex DePillis, Senior Agricultural Development Coordinator, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets Highlights: 225 kilowatts of installed capacity ● 1.75 million kWh of electricity generated per year ● 7-year payback ● Cow Power farm generates electricity and uses waste heat for greenhouse Download the pdf. Lois and Maurice Maxwell started…

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Just after Memorial Day in 2013, the Audet family hosted a community celebration of the installation of a 100-kilowatt wind turbine.
Photo: Vermont Agency of Agriculture

Wind Energy on a Dairy Farm

Prepared by Alex DePillis, Senior Agricultural Development Coordinator, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets Highlights: 100 kW of installed capacity ● ≈150,000 kWh generated annually ● Unique partnership with Green Mountain Power facilitates community-scale wind energy installation Download the pdf. The Audet Family has operated Blue Spruce Farm since 1958 and currently…

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Roger Rainville with BioPro 190 automated biodiesel processor at Borderview Farm.
Photo: VSJF

On-Farm Biodiesel Production

Prepared by Sarah Galbraith, Vermont Bioenergy Initiative Program Manager, VSJF Highlights: Cost of biodiesel production = $2.29 per gallon ● Seed meal used as a co-product for livestock feed or crop fertilizer ● Central processing facility and shared equipment use maximizes efficiency for neighboring farms Download the pdf. Roger Rainville’s dairy-turned-energy farm in Grand…

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Efficiency Vermont -- limited time rebate bonus through end of 2014!

A single energy efficiency upgrade can yield savings for years to come. And now through the end of the year, you can maximize your savings with a limited time rebate bonus for a number of energy efficient technologies on the farm.

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Vermont Bioenergy Initiative releases report on grass heating energy potential in Vermont and the Northeast

Grass biomass could make a sizeable contribution to Vermont’s heating needs over time, and could be part of the renewable energy mix required to meet the state’s goal to meet 90% of Vermont’s energy needs through renewable energy and increased efficiency by 2050

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Local production for local use is the ‘biofuel’ model that works in Vermont

The Vermont Bioenergy Initiative offers local perspective in response to recent ethanol news and shares new statewide bioenergy website resource - a model that works with local food production

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