Vermont Business Magazine Goodrich Farm in Salisbury, Vermont, has been recognized with a 2021 US Dairy Sustainability Award for Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability. The farm was one of three farms chosen nationally to receive the award and was selected for its many sustainable initiatives including its role in a unique regional partnership to create renewable energy, recycle food waste, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the creation of one of the largest on-farm anaerobic digesters in the US.
The Innovation Center for US Dairy, established under the leadership of dairy farmers, announced its 10th annual US Dairy Sustainability Awards on June 14. The program recognizes dairy farms, businesses, and partnerships whose sustainable practices positively impact the health and well-being of consumers, communities, animals, and the environment.
Goodrich Farm is leading the way in New England. Alongside its partners, the farm launched a 1.32-million-gallon anaerobic digester in 2020 that can produce 180,000 Mcf of renewable natural gas annually. This partnership brings together Goodrich Farm, which hosts the digester, Vanguard Renewables, developer, owner, and operator of the digester, Vermont Gas Systems, and Middlebury College, which will purchase much of the renewable natural gas produced at the digester.
At the anaerobic digester, methane-emitting cow manure and food waste are recycled into carbon-negative renewable natural gas (RNG). The RNG travels by pipeline to Middlebury College’s nearby power plant, bringing the college closer to reaching its 10-year goal to power the campus with 100 percent renewable energy.
“As a part of the agricultural community, we’ve done better in Vermont at showing the public the work we’re putting in. We want to be good stewards of the land, we want to implement good practices,” explained Chase Goodrich. “We want our neighbors to see we’re making a great quality product in a responsible way.”
Chase and Danielle Goodrich
Managed by siblings Chase and Danielle Goodrich, Goodrich Farm is a multi-generational dairy farm in Addison County milking 900 cows while caring for more than 2,000 acres of land. The farm is one of 750 dairy farm families who are members of the Agri-Mark dairy cooperative, owner of Cabot Creamery Cooperative.
The family started farming on their current land in 1956 with just 10 cows.
More than a decade in the works, the anaerobic digester provides the farm with a new diversified income stream in addition to high-quality, low carbon liquid fertilizer, animal bedding, and a reduction in their farm’s carbon footprint. In addition, the Farm Powered anaerobic digester facility features the first phosphorus removal system in Vermont which protects the Otter Creek Watershed that feeds into Lake Champlain; one of the largest freshwater lakes in the US.
Dairy farming is at the heart of New England's pastoral landscape. New England dairy farmers currently produce about 45% of the dairy consumed in the region, according to USDA data. In order to provide dairy products for an estimated 17 million New Englanders by 2060, Food Solutions New England estimates there would need to be 600,000 milking cows, roughly doubling present dairy production.
The anaerobic digester at Goodrich Farm is also helping Vermont meet its universal recycling law which bans food waste from entering landfills, and achieve the goal of a 75% reduction in the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
In Vermont, food scraps make up roughly 30 percent of a family’s waste, and that amount can be more than 50 percent for businesses and restaurants. Reducing food waste is one of the most impactful ways to lessen the effects of climate change.
“Dairy farms like ours all across the country are putting into place new green practices and technologies to meet the aggressive greenhouse gas reduction goals set by our individual states, co-operatives, and the dairy industry,” Chase said.
The US dairy industry is working to achieve a new set of 2050 voluntary goals aimed at becoming carbon neutral or better, maximizing water use while increasing recycling, and improving water quality through the use of manure and nutrients.
“This award is humbling because we’re just doing what we love to do,” added Danielle Goodrich. “Our whole goal is to be sustainable and viable and carry on the tradition of farming in Vermont. To be a part of the climate solution means a lot. I know our grandfather would be proud of what we’ve achieved.”
Goodrich Farm will be recognized at the Fall meeting of the Dairy Sustainability Alliance.
About Goodrich Farm
Goodrich Farm is a multi-generational dairy farm managed by siblings Chase and Danielle Goodrich with 900 milking cows. A member of the Agri-Mark Cabot Creamery Cooperative, the farm started in the dairy business in 1956 with ten milking cows. The farm cultivates 1,750 acres of hay and 640 acres of corn. Today, Goodrich Farm hots a Farm Powered® anaerobic digester with two 660,000 gallon capacity tanks, a hydrolyzer, and the first-in-Vermont phosphorous management system. They annual input of the digester is 3,650 tons of manure and 975,000 tons of organics; annual digester output is 180,000 Mcf/y of baseload Renewable Natural Gas for pipeline injection.
About Vanguard Renewables
Vanguard Renewables is the national leader in development of food and dairy waste-to-renewable energy projects. The Company is committed to advancing decarbonization by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from farms and food waste and supporting regenerative agriculture best practice on partner farms. In December 2020, Vanguard launched the Farm Powered Strategic Alliance alongside food industry leaders Dairy Farmers of America, Unilever, and Starbucks. The Alliance commits to developing a circular solution to food waste reduction and recycling from manufacturing and the supply chain and decarbonization. Vanguard owns and operates six anaerobic digester facilities in the northeast, has 10 under construction or in permitting nationwide, and will develop 100 in the top 20 U.S. markets by 2025. Vanguard’s established renewable natural gas offtake agreements with national utilities including Dominion Energy and ONE Gas, and its strategic alliance with 14,500-dairy member cooperative Dairy Farmers of America, position the Company to significantly impact U.S. production and delivery of renewable natural gas to commercial and residential customers across the country. Vanguard received the 2020 Energy Vision Leadership Award.
Please visit https://vanguardrenewables.com to learn more.
About New England Dairy
New England Dairy’s mission is to champion the region’s farm families and the nutritious foods they produce. The non-profit organization does this by sharing the New England dairy story, connecting people to dairy farms, supporting youth wellness in schools, and delivering the latest nutrition and sustainability science to health professionals, scientists, media, nutrition professionals and educators. Learn more at NewEnglandDairy.com.