How these Massachusetts farmers are turning manure and food waste into power

PBS News Hour
November 29, 2019

Watch: How these Massachusetts farmers are turning manure and food waste into power


Judy Woodruff:

In the final episode of our special series this week on food waste, we look at some innovative solutions being developed to deal with the growing problem of spoiled and surplus food in this country.

Special correspondent Allison Aubrey visited a state where dairy farmers are using it to power their farms and more.

Allison Aubrey:

It’s burger night at Barstow’s Dairy and Bakery at Longview Farm in Hadley, Massachusetts, and the Pioneer Valley String Band has drawn a crowd.

As advertised, the burgers are born and raised here. But the cows on this farm produce more than just meat.

Denise Barstow:

Our cows are producing about a hundred pounds of cow manure per cow per day, and we’re treating it through this system and getting electricity, renewable energy that’s coming right here from the farm.

Allison Aubrey:

The system that seventh-generation farmer Denise Barstow is talking about is an anaerobic digester. Those green towers are part of it. She’s one of a handful of dairy farmers in Massachusetts using this technology.

Just down the road, dairy farmer Peter Melnik is using it, too.

Steven Melnik:

We are taking food waste from all over the greater Boston area and our very own cow manure. We mix them together in the digester vessel and make electricity.

Allison Aubrey:

This land has been in Melnik’s family for four generations. But times are tough for dairy farmers, so Melnik has diversified. His land is now part farm, and part renewable energy plant. The process starts here.

Read the entire transcript and watch the video.

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