The Digester is in the lower left of this photo on the 2400 acre spread of the Goodrich Family Farm.
The largest anaerobic digester in the Northeast has just gone into operation there as well. The project is producing renewable natural gas (RNG) from cow manure and food waste that will provide additional revenue to the farm and help a college campus achieve its 100% renewable energy target.
The Goodrich Family Farm, located in Salisbury, Vermont, in partnership with Vanguard Renewables and Vermont Gas Systems, developed the facility which can process 100 tons of dairy manure from the farm’s 900 cows plus more than 180 tons of food scraps and beverage waste from local businesses every day, including Ben and Jerry’s, Cabot Creamery, Whistlepig Distillery and Switchback Brewing Company.
The digester is owned and operated by Vanguard Renewables. It is the company’s first in Vermont. This project also marks the first time that Vanguard is supplying a college with RNG. About 55% of the RNG generated by the digester will be purchased by Middlebury College as part of its Energy2028 plan that commits the college to achieve 100% renewable energy use by 2028. The rest will be made available to Vermont residents who want to reduce their carbon footprints at an additional cost.
Alex DePillis, Senior Agricultural Development Coordinator at Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets, credited the partners for working tirelessly to see it come to fruition and recognized the myriad benefits the project can reap. In addition to fuel production, these include: 1) job creation as the facility requires a local operations workforce, 2) production of nutrient-rich organic fertilizers replacing chemical fertilizers for the farm, 3) use of residual solids for cow bedding, 4) preventing farm runoff from polluting Lake Champlain, 5) creating a model for other farms, food waste businesses, municipalities, and states to follow, and finally, 6) providing opportunities for local research and student projects on food systems, circular economy and clean energy/fuels.
Vanguard Renewables was a 2020 Energy Vision Leadership Award winner for its work with America’s farmers, food and beverage manufacturers, food retailers, and other institutions to collect food waste and combine it with dairy manure in anaerobic digesters to be converted to RNG for use as electricity and vehicle fuel. Vanguard was also recognized for this plan to help Middlebury College become a carbon-neutral campus, and it received a 2021 Dairy Sustainability Award, where the Goodrich Farm project was recognized for its socially responsible, economically viable, and environmentally sound practices and technologies.