College Announces Food Waste Program

John+Hanselman+of+Vanguard+Renewables+speaks+about+the+digester.
John Hanselman of Vanguard Renewables speaks about the digester.

John Hanselman of Vanguard Renewables speaks about the digester.

Middlebury College

Middlebury College

John Hanselman of Vanguard Renewables speaks about the digester.

By BRIDGET COLLITON

MIDDLEBURY — At a press conference on Thursday, Nov. 16, at Middlebury College’s Kirk Alumni Center, the college announced its partnership with Goodrich Family Farms of Salisbury, Vermont, Vanguard Renewables and Vermont Gas. Goodrich Family Farms and Vanguard Renewables will work together to use cow manure and food waste to produce renewable natural gas via an anaerobic digester.

The college will work with the two enterprises to gain a sustainable energy source and to reduce its own food waste, helping it to achieve its sustainability goals.

An anaerobic digester will be built by Vanguard Renewables on Goodrich Family Farms’s property and will turn the cow manure provided by the farm and food waste from the community into an energy source. The digester located at the Goodrich farm is posed to produce the most renewable natural gas of any digester in Vermont.

In addition to purchasing the bulk of the power generated by the digester, the college will provide some of its food waste for the digester to use as fuel.

“We are constantly looking at new ways to make our energy sources more sustainable and diverse, and the digester project is a great opportunity to do that,” said college treasurer David Provost.

Goodrich Family Farms is a dairy farm and member of the Agri-Mark Cabot Creamery Cooperative in Salisbury, Vermont. The farm has been family-operated for four generations. Chase Goodrich, the fourth generation to operate the farm, has been a driving force behind the project.

“We want to diversify our income sources and find new ways to be environmentally friendly. Here in the Champlain Valley, we’re particularly aware of efforts to reduce phosphorus runoff into Lake Champlain,” Goodrich said in a press conference.

Vanguard Renewables, a firm based in Wellesley, Massachusetts, works with farmers to help them reduce their energy costs through the firm’s anaerobic digester program. Non-farm waste, like the college’s food waste, is delivered to the farms in sealed trucks and is then combined with the farm’s waste, namely animal manure, and put into a biodigester tank at the farm. Vanguard currently operates three other generators in Massachusetts.

Vanguard Renewables works directly with farms in order to help them reduce their energy costs by utilizing the waste they produce, including cow manure and food waste. The biodigester tank reportedly reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent, according to the Vanguard Renewables website.

“The Vanguard Renewables Farm Powered Organics to Energy Anaerobic Digester program offers farmers relief from rising energy costs and manure disposal challenges,” Vanguard Renewables’ website states.

“We’re especially excited about this project because it’s our first partnership with a college and our first digester in Vermont,” said executive chairman of Vanguard Renewables John Hanselman in a press conference.

Vermont Gas is a company that aims to provide clean energy to those in Addison, Chittenden and Franklin counties. It frequently conducts efficiency programs that aim to help its customers save money and reduce their energy consumption.

“Vermont Gas is proud to be the first local distribution company in the country to offer the choice of renewable natural gas service to our customers. A local source, hosted by a Vermont family farm, serving a world-renowned Vermont college, is a big step forward in advancing Vermont’s clean energy future,” president and CEO of Vermont Gas Dan Rendall said in a press conference.

While the project is still in the permitting phase, all parties remain hopeful that it will soon be underway. After the permits are obtained, Vanguard will begin construction on the Goodrich Family Farm and Vermont Gaswill begin constructing a five-mile pipeline along Shard Villa Road in order to connect the farm with the company’s pipeline network in Addison County, as reported by the Middlebury College Newsroom.

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About the Writer
BRIDGET COLLITON, Local Editor
Bridget Colliton ’19 is a local news editor. Previously, she served as a staff news writer.  Bridget is pursuing a degree in international politics and economics with a focus on the U.S.’s relationship with China. In the spring of 2018, she studied political science and history at Oxford University. Bridget has previously worked for the Texas...
3 Comments

3 Responses to “College Announces Food Waste Program”

  1. Jane Palmer on November 30th, 2017 11:11 pm

    While I applaud the efforts to reduce phosphorus that could find it’s way into the lake, I would like to see actual figures as to how much gas this process can actually produce at any one farm…even with the additional food scraps from the college. This is still methane and the least harmful way to deal with all that greenhouse gas would be to use it to generate electricity and distribute it to those living near the farm. It’s not worth the environmental damage of laying pipe and causing more methane to leak into the atmosphere during the distribution process. This is not new technology. It sounds like greenwashing if Vermont Gas is still selling 99.99 percent fracked gas. We need to stop burning fossil fuels. Period.

  2. Ross Conrad on December 1st, 2017 7:40 am

    Unfortunately the college’s renewable gas project is a case of one-step forward and two steps back…in order to bring the digester online a fracked gas pipeline with a supply chain that releases so much methane that it has just as much of a negative impact on climate as coal and cost over 150 million dollars had to be built. A big step forward in advancing Vermont’s clean energy future??? Not quite.

  3. Barrie Bailey on December 3rd, 2017 2:10 am

    “clean energy for Addison, Chitende and Franklin counties” really now. Have you all got amnesia, fracked gas is a fossil fuel, it causes climate change.
    Its great that the digester will be going online, but that is miniscule compared to the amount of dirty, fracked fossil fuel that flows thru the pipeline in the three counties.




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College Announces Food Waste Program