4.6: Food System Energy Issues Add to Collection

Sunflowers in Grand Isle grown for biodiesel production. Photo: VSJF

Major productivity gains in America’s food system have been made through the increased availability and use of nonrenewable energy sources. Food system activities consume a lot of energy, “from the manufacture and application of agricultural inputs, such as fertilizers and irrigation, through crop and livestock production, processing, and packaging; distribution services, such as shipping and cold storage; the running of refrigeration, preparation, and disposal equipment in food retailing and food service establishments; and in home kitchens.” The USDA reports that food-related energy use increased from 12.2% of national energy use in 1997 to 14.4% in 2002, and was an estimated 15.7% of use in 2007. 

Nonrenewable energy and industrial agriculture are the defining paradigms of energy and food systems. However, in recent years, major changes in food and energy systems have emerged: The local food movement reflects a growing preference for fresh, healthy food and direct connections with producers. Innovations in energy systems are rapidly providing new opportunities for saving energy and generating renewable energy. 

Vermont’s food system businesses are already major contributors to renewable energy generation: from the siting of large solar and wind projects on agricultural land, to agricultural and woodland crops, animal waste, and food scraps that are used as feedstocks for electricity, heat, and liquid fuel. Vermont’s food system consists of more than agricultural activities— large roofs at grocery stores and manufacturing facilities can support solar installations, several thousand buildings can be more energy efficient, and many dozens of delivery vehicles can be more fuel efficient. The intersection of energy systems and food systems is fertile ground for developing sustainable solutions to pressing problems. 

This section is currently being written by the Energy Crosscutting Team.



Search the Atlas: Find food system renewable generation sites and support organizations. -Show Categories


Resources

Understanding the Vermont Food Consumer

In 2014 Farm to Plate’s Consumer Education and Marketing Working Group conducted a target audience analysis to identify and map customers and potential customers of Vermont’s food products. Spearheaded by co-chairs Beth Cullen of Root Consulting and Chris Howell of Vermont Farm Tours, the “Understanding Vermont’s Food Consumer” project is…

Read Full Story

Guascor engines are commonly used with methane digesters in Vermont.
Photo: Vermont Agency of Agriculture

Digester on a Dairy Farm

Prepared by Alex DePillis, Senior Agricultural Development Coordinator, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets Highlights: 225 kilowatts of installed capacity ● 1.75 million kWh of electricity generated per year ● 7-year payback ● Cow Power farm generates electricity and uses waste heat for greenhouse Download the pdf. Lois and Maurice Maxwell started…

Read Full Story

Roger Rainville with BioPro 190 automated biodiesel processor at Borderview Farm.
Photo: VSJF

On-Farm Biodiesel Production

Prepared by Sarah Galbraith, Vermont Bioenergy Initiative Program Manager, VSJF Highlights: Cost of biodiesel production = $2.29 per gallon ● Seed meal used as a co-product for livestock feed or crop fertilizer ● Central processing facility and shared equipment use maximizes efficiency for neighboring farms Download the pdf. Roger Rainville’s dairy-turned-energy farm in Grand…

Read Full Story

McKnight Farm solar array in East Montpelier.
Photo: Catamount Solar

Solar Energy on a Dairy Farm

Prepared by Alex DePillis, Senior Agricultural Development Coordinator, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets Highlights: 95 kW (AC) of installed capacity ● ≈120,000 kWh generated annually ● Payback period = 6 years ● Fixed rack solar PV systems and trackers are common throughout Vermont Download the pdf. McKnight Farm, an organic dairy…

Read Full Story

Harvesting wheat; bagging croutons.
Photo: David Caccavo

Olivia's Croutons

Olivia’s Croutons has grown from a small, home kitchen operation—where 20 bags was a large order—to occupying an 8,000 square foot facility in a renovated barn in New Haven that ships to stores across the US. While the move to the new facility was prompted by a need for a…

Read Full Story

Taylor and Nick Meyer in a field of sunflowers at North Hardwick Dairy.
Photo: Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund.

North Hardwick Dairy

Everyone in the Hardwick area knows the North Hardwick Dairy —“it’s the one on the hill with the wind turbine.” The turbine is evidence of farmer Nick Meyer’s focus on meeting his goal of greater self-sufficiency. “I want to produce everything the farm needs on the farm.” The higher and relatively stable…

Read Full Story

Grazing cattle on a cloudy day.
Photo: Maple Wind Farm.

Maple Wind Farm

At Maple Wind Farm in Huntington, the beef cattle “harvest their own feed,” as farmer Bruce Hennessey likes to say. They’re grass-fed cattle, meaning that for six and sometimes seven months of the year they eat grass on pasture, using their own energy to walk around and fatten themselves. Bruce, who…

Read Full Story

Monument Farms Dairy in Weybridge.
Photo: Monument Farms Dairy.

Monument Farms Dairy

Monument Farms Dairy began in 1930 as a home delivery route run by Richard and Marjory James in the Weybridge area. Today, the company is managed by their grandson Jon Rooney and two of his cousins, Bob James and Pete James. And their responsibilities are doled out equally, just as you’d…

Read Full Story

Just after Memorial Day in 2013, the Audet family hosted a community celebration of the installation of a 100-kilowatt wind turbine.
Photo: Vermont Agency of Agriculture

Wind Energy on a Dairy Farm

Prepared by Alex DePillis, Senior Agricultural Development Coordinator, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets Highlights: 100 kW of installed capacity ● ≈150,000 kWh generated annually ● Unique partnership with Green Mountain Power facilitates community-scale wind energy installation Download the pdf. The Audet Family has operated Blue Spruce Farm since 1958 and currently…

Read Full Story

Ayers Brook Goat Dairy’s new barn in Randolph, central Vermont, is designed to house 500 goats, including state-of-the-art facilities for milking, breeding, and for raising goats for the dairy and for the region’s goat farmers.
Photo: Aegis Renewable Energy

Solar Energy on a Dairy Barn

Prepared by Alex DePillis, Senior Agricultural Development Coordinator, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets Highlights: 180 kW (AC) of installed capacity ● ≈200,000 kWh generated annually ● Minimal changes to the roof structure required ● Largest PV installation on a barn in Vermont  Download the pdf.  Upon retirement, Carol and Perry Hodgdon sold…

Read Full Story

VT Grass Farmers Seeks Organizational Consultant

Vermont Grass Farmers Association is seeking consultant support to develop a plan for its next stage of development.

View Details »

Efficiency Vermont Rebates for Maple Reverse Osmosis Systems Now Available

Efficiency Vermont recently launched a new program to offer technical assistance and a rebate for maple sugar makers who are looking to install a Maple Reverse Osmosis (RO) system for the first time. RO systems can cut boiling time by 50-75%, resulting in less fuel or wood used and less time spent boiling.

View Details »

Green Mountain Power Partners with Ferrisburg Farmer

Nea-Tocht Farm turbine is GMP’s third community-scale wind turbine

View Details »

Efficiency in the Sugar House

Vermont maple sugaring operations vary in scale, from the small hobbyist with a few backyard buckets, to the dairy farmer looking to diversify his/her income stream, to the large scale operation that produces tens of thousands of gallons a year. While different in many ways, they all have at least one thing in common – energy.

View Details »


There are no resources available in the Images category.