Farm Power
Cabot Farmers are Honored with the U.S Dairy Sustainability Award

Cabot Farmers Win Sustainability Award!

Cabot Farmers are honored with the U.S. Dairy Sustainability Award in Chicago for preventing food waste from going to landfills by converting it into energy that makes Cabot Butter. 

Watch this great video produced by our friends at the New England Dairy Promotion Board.

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Electricity: 1 Cow = 1 Home

The generator produces 285 kilowatts of electricity per hour at its highest level. This anaerobic digester produces 21,000 MWh per year. This is enough energy to power the equivalent of more than 250 homes. So the annual electricity needs of 250 homes is met thanks to 250 milking cows. But the actual use of the electricity from the digester is, first to provide the farm the electricity it needs and, second, to provide THE ELECTRICITY NEEDED TO CHURN CABOT BUTTER. This is arranged through a net metering agreement. The renewable energy credits (RECs) are not owned by Cabot Creamery; they are sold to benefit Vanguard Renewables, whose majority owner is Barstow's Longview Farm.

An onsite transformer allows the local electric company to access the electricity.

The engine produces 1 million BTUs of heat per hour. Water, pushed through to cool the engine, exits the engine at 200F and is channeled through a heat recovery unit along with the engine exhaust. A portion of the hot water is used to maintain the constant 100F inside the digester, contributing to the closed loop of the process.

Hot water is produced from this process and used to heat the farm house, and the milking parlor. Because there is so much recovered heat, the Barstow's are working on expanding the use of this heat in other homes in the neighborhood. Using the hot water to run an air conditioning unit in the barn is another long-term project for the farm!

Environmental Benefits

In addition to generating usable biogas, fertilizer, and electricity, Barstow's anaerobic digester also:

  • Lowers manure methane emission and mitigates groundwater nutrient loads.
  • Provides a repurposing solution for local organics.
  • Decreases the amount of organic waste in landfills toward a zero-waste goal.
  • Replaces purchase and use of chemical fertilizers.
  • Improves crop yields.
  • Supports resource optimization — the concept of the highest and best use of all resources by fully utilizing all inputs and outputs from the system.
  • Allows the farm to move away from fossil fuels for heat and electricity.
  • Increases the sustainability of the food processing and selling industry in the Commonwealth.

Quick Facts: Anaerobic Digestor

  • The digester blends farm manure, food scraps & food processing byproducts to produce biogas that runs a generator to produce 21,000 MWh a year of electricity — enough power to run more than 250 homes.
  • The Digester at Barstowe's Longview Farm is the 2nd plant of its kind in MA. The 1st can be found in Rutland, MA.
  • MA was the 1st state to fully define a pathway for small farms to be permitted to use digesters.
  • 1 cow produces enough electricity to power 1 average home.
  • The digester process removes greenhouse gases = to 3 cars per cow from the atmosphere.
  • Major food companies like Cains Foods and HP Hood, provide the farm with food scraps & byproducts vs. sending it to landfills.
  • Nationwide, food leftovers are the single-largest component of the waste stream by weight. Food scraps make up 17% (29 million tons/year) of what we send to landfills, or enough to fill the Rose Bowl every three days!
  • The process is a closed loop — everything is recycled, reused & repurposed, from the manure and food scraps that produce electricity; to the recovered heat the plant generates used to heat barns and farmhouse; to the organic fertilizer that remains after digestion, that is used back on the land.
  • This project contributes to sustaining small & medium sized dairy farms while reducing odors, water run-off and the use of chemicals.
  • All the equipment & services used to build the digester facility were made in the U.S. — keeping jobs here.
  • See more about how it works and other fun facts from our partner Vanguard Renewables.