Blue Spruce Farm Bridport, VT
The average person wouldn’t look at a cow pat and think “clean energy,” but Blue Spruce Farm has been a pioneer in efficiently recycling manure from their cows into electric power, fertilizer and even cozy bedding for their herd. In partnership with Green Mountain Power, the farm served as the pilot dairy for the “Cow Power” program in which cow manure is bio-digested into energy that not only provides electricity for the farm but also powers more than 400 Vermont homes. “It has connected us with our community in an unprecedented way,” says Marie Audet whose husband, Eugene, serves on the co-op’s board of directors.
In 2012, Blue Spruce was one of only three farms in the country to win an inaugural National Award for Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability. Beyond electric power, the nutrient-rich byproducts of the farm are used as natural crop fertilizer. The solids that remain make soft and fluffy recycled beds for the dairy herd. Other forward-thinking technologies applied to milking, milk-cooling, barn construction, ventilation, water-heating and lighting have reduced the farm’s energy use by half. Most recently, they erected a wind turbine to further reduce their energy footprint. In addition, the Audets use cropping techniques that protect and build soil and reduce impacts on the watershed. “We care about our environment,” says Marie, who was inducted into the Vermont Agricultural Hall of Farm in 2019. “It’s not only possible to protect the water supply and put out a quality product, it’s imperative.”
The family has collected a treasure chest of awards and recognition, but that is not what drives them. Today, the third generation is being raised on the farm and there are more than 20 involved family members who recognize that sustainability is a crucial part of being able to hand the farm down. It’s not a new concept for the Audets. Eugene’s parents started the farm in 1958. “We have a long tradition. Caring for our animals and our land is who we are, even though now people have fancy names for it, like ‘sustainability’,” Marie says with a laugh. “We are constantly finding new and better ways to produce quality milk in a way that is good for our animals, good for the environment and good for our community,” she says. “We’re driven to do the right thing.”Learn more about how Blue Spruce Farm spins cow manure into all kinds of gold.