SALISBURY, Vt. (WFFF) — A Vermont farm is now home to the largest machine in the Northeast that breaks down waste and turns it into renewable energy.
“There’s a lot of times where we could have said, ‘Nope! Enough is enough,'” said Danielle Goodrich. “As dairy farmers as an industry and my family, we don’t give up.”
It’s taken a lot of trial and error to perfect a project that produces renewable energy and helps Vermont reach its energy goals. Danielle and Chase Goodrich realized years ago that they needed to start thinking about innovation around farming.
“The economics of dairy farming were extremely difficult, as well as the environmental scrutiny,” Chase Goodrich said. “So we were looking for innovative ways to grow our business that would solve both of those issues.”
Vanguard Renewables—developer, owner, and operator of the anaerobic digestor—worked alongside Goodrich Farm, Vermont Gas Systems, and Middlebury College, which will purchase more than half of the natural gas produced by the machine. This will allow the college to get closer to its 10-year goal of powering its campus with 100% renewable energy. “Our students have access to the farm, and they are active in this solution going forward,” said David Provost.
Gov. Phil Scott and Lt. Gov. Molly Gray both joined the Goodrich Family to turn the valve that officially got the digestor up and running. “This is Vermont’s ingenuity at its best,” the governor said. “Think about it, we got a Vermont farm, a Vermont utility, a Vermont college, all coming together to build a model for our region.”
The digestor can recycle more than 180 tons of waste daily and convert up to 100 tons of dairy manure into gas. Not only will this create fertilizer for area farms, but it will also prevent phosphorous from getting into the water system.
“It turns what would otherwise be waste into enough renewable gas to heat thousands of Vermont homes for an entire year,” said Neale Lunderville, CEO of Vermont Gas Systems.