Massachusetts food disposal ban celebrated at Barstow Farm in Hadley, where cows produce biogas

By Mary Serreze, The Republican, Springfield, Mass., October 3, 2014


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Massachusetts officials brought their “Food Waste Ban Full Harvest Tour” to Hadley on Friday with a visit to Barstow’s Longview Farm, the site of an innovative waste-to-energy project.

The farm’s anaerobic digester takes manure and food waste and converts it into methane gas, which in turn powers a 300-kilowatt on-site generator. Most of the electricity produced is sold to the grid, and the rest powers the dairy farm operation. The by-product of the fermentation process is used as fertilizer.

Friday’s outdoor gathering marked the kickoff of a commercial food waste ban in Massachusetts landfills. Starting Oct. 1, businesses and institutions producing more than one ton of food waste per week were no longer able to just throw it away. The waste must be diverted or repurposed – sent, for instance, to composting facilities, food banks, farms for livestock feed, or to anaerobic digesters like the one at Barstow’s.

MassDEP Commissioner David Cash called the food waste ban a “win-win-win-win-win-win” situation. He said it would reduce waste, save money on disposal costs, create renewable energy, cut emissions from fossil fuel use, grow jobs, and stimulate the economy.

Agriculture commissioner Greg Watson said the waste ban provides opportunities for farm families like the Barstows and other entrepreneurs.

Watson said the anaerobic digester project is “full of synergies,” coordinating energy, environment, food and economic development goals. As an example, the fertilizer from digesters could rebuild soil within cities, where urban agriculture projects are springing up, he said.

Steve Barstow said he was proud to be a seventh-generation farmer on the land. The dairy farm maintains 475 cows, he said, and ships 30,000 pounds of milk every other day. The farm is part of the Cabot-Agrimark cooperative, which runs a butter creamery in West Springfield.

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