BRIDPORT – On Aug. 28, Marie Audet of Blue Spruce Plantation in Bridport shall be inducted into the Vermont Agricultural Hall of Fame. Audet spoke humbly, when asked about her nomination. “I’m reflecting what this family is doing just,” she said. Modesty aside, Marie Audet has been a powerful spokesperson for Blue Spruce Farm and its on-farm power generating initiatives – a methane digester that becomes cow manure into electricity and a wind turbine. When the methane digester place the Audits’ farm on the map in 2005, the family was instantly flooded with demands from journalists at magazines such as The NY Times and Time magazine for tours and interviews.
Marie Audet, who grew up on a dairy farm in Middlebury and married into the family as a licensed accountant, stepped into a communications role. “Among my first groupings was a crew of 60 environmental journalists from national magazines,” she recalled. Always academically inclined, Audet studied through to environmental research and policy and started to keep track of the sorts of questions non-farmers posed. Today, 12 farms across Vermont use methane digesters.
The process minimizes odor; creates valuable, focused liquid fertilizer that can be incorporated into the garden soil;, and creates cost-saving, value-added products such as comforter sets, liquid fertilizer, and electricity. WHAT IS A DIGGER? In 2005, Blue Spruce Farm became the first farm to participate in Green Mountain Power’s Cow Power initiative and to incorporate cow power into their business model. In 2013, Blue Spruce Farm added a 13kW wind turbine to their property, another endeavor that churns out electricity. Between the turbine and the methane digester, the family produces enough capacity to run their state-of-the-art, temperature-regulated, and self-cooling barns as well as their high-efficiency milking equipment while still offering electricity back into the neighborhood power grid.
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Today, their milking barns have enthusiasts and walls that work like curtains, arranged to thermostats – all driven by electricity generated on the plantation. Not just a spokesperson for the plantation, Audet has gotten associated with other farmers to help them learn about sustainable procedures and advocate for help achieving them. She’s earned a reputation nationally as an innovative advocate for farms and agriculture and as an innovator in on-farm sustainability.
In 2012, the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy honored Audet and her family the first-ever National Award for Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability. In 2015, Renewable Energy Vermont bestowed the Jim Grundy Award on Audet. Audet has seen her family’s operation grow from a little farm to a large one – by Vermont criteria; she argues a plantation of any range and size can implement these solutions.
“Any size farm can be profitable. Any size plantation can be environmentally sustainable. However, she adds, larger farms have had the better part of twenty years to adapt to water quality regulations, and manure storage, for example, can be a large investment for a small business. “You can’t be considered a farmer rather than getting worried about the impact to society, the environmental impact, day – a farm is also a little business but at the end of the ” Audet said.
She argues that the broader community has a part to play in assisting these smaller businesses to become more lasting. 60,000 (for an investment with no direct financial return), as well as your annual revenue are only a couple of hundred thousand, that’s a big investment to make for storing manure,” she noticed. Audet and other farmers over the condition wish to see the condition to create a system where, instead of subsidies, farmers are paid for the ecosystem services they offer – functions such as carbon sequestration and stormwater management.
10 million for such a system. “You will find methods and technology available that can ensure that farms not only supply us but provide us with the clean water we need and sequester more carbon by the end of the day and clean our air,” Audet said. Today, Blue Spruce Farms produces over 30,000, calendar year 000 pounds of milk each, the equivalent of 3.6 million gallons.