College Announces Food Waste Program


Middlebury College

John Hanselman of Vanguard Renewables speaks about the digester.


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.