Earlier this summer, I traveled to Western Massachusetts with Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan, state legislators, and representatives from the US Department of Agriculture, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), and our Massachusetts Farm Enhancement Program to see what farms are doing to adopt renewable energy and implement energy efficiency measures that will cut agricultural operating costs and decrease energy use.
First stop, Red Fire Farm in Granby. Ryan and Sarah Voilland’s certified organic farm is the largest Community Supported Agricultural (CSA) operation in the Northeast. CSAs allow customers to buy shares of seasonal crops on a weekly basis. They recently received a DAR Agricultural Energy Grant to install a photovoltaic system, which will provide for 30 to35 percent of the farm’s annual energy needs. Throughout the project, Red Fire Farm used local businesses that assisted with the supporting structures and inverters for the system.
Second stop, Winter Moon Farm in Hadley. This farm is owned and operated by Michael Docter. Part of the organic farm is rented to the CSA Next Farm Over, which has over 400 members and also grows organic produce. Winter Moon built two green energy projects completed with state and federal assistance.
- Project 1 – Cold Storage: Winter Moon worked with DAR’s Farm Energy Program to understand options for providing cold storage in a recently-purchased former tobacco barn, all with the intention of extending its “buy local” season. The cold storage facility provides winter-long storage of local carrots, beets, turnips and rutabagas that are intentionally grown in extra quantities for sale to local markets. The new cooling system maintains a consistent temperature of 34 degrees and near 100 percent humidity. DAR helped fund the project design through the Agricultural Environmental Enhancement Program.
- Project 2 – PV: The farm also sought to furnish its south-facing barn roof with solar PV panels. Built by local contractors, the system generates over 35,000 kWh annually and provides all the electricity needs of the farm’s current operation. The PV project received funding support from DAR’s Agricultural Energy Grant and the USDA.
Third Stop, the Mapleline Dairy in Hadley. Mapleline is a family-operated dairy and milk bottling facility owned by the Kokoski family. In addition to 190 dairy cattle, the farm grows crops including corn, alfalfa and hay. Mapleline’s latest green energy project is a roof-mounted PV system on its dairy barn, which is expected to offset approximately one-third off the farm’s milking operation energy needs. The project was a collaborative effort between DAR and MassCEC.
In the end, we all enjoyed a great day of camaraderie, a local lunch at Cook Farm (ending with fresh raspberry ice cream), and great discussions about clean and renewable energy at each stop along the way. We recognized how important it is to have a collaborative approach to make renewable and energy efficiency projects like these succeed. We’re lucky to have such a bountiful and innovative agricultural industry here in Massachusetts. Go local, go green.
Boston Latin School Honored for Sustainability, Health, Environmental Education posted on Apr 22
Congratulations to Boston Latin School, recipient of a 2014 U.S. Department of Education (USED) Green Ribbon Schools recognition award. The Green Ribbon Schools program, launched by USED in 2011, honors the highest performing schools for sustainability, health and environmental education in the U.S. This year, …Continue Reading Boston Latin School Honored for Sustainability, Health, Environmental Education
Toward Zero Net Energy posted on Apr 10
In late February I had the opportunity to attend the Toward Zero Net Energy (TZNE) Retrofit Program “Charrette” ‒ a collaborative session in which a group of designers drafts a solution to a design problem ‒ at Holyoke Community College (HCC). The purpose of this charrette …Continue Reading Toward Zero Net Energy
Leadership Matters – Images from 7th Green Schools Summit posted on Apr 7
At the 7th Annual Massachusetts Green Schools Summit, students, teachers, legislators and energy officials came together to embrace leadership roles within their communities. DOER Commissioner Mark Sylvia emphasized that clean energy and climate literacy among the current generation of students will be crucial for Massachusetts in the future. “Set the tone, lead the way in the classroom, at home, in the community and for our future.”