By Investing in a Vermont Farmer, Ben & Jerry’s Invests in the Environment and Business Success
Working with NativeEnergy, the ice cream maker creates a model to help improve Vermont farmers’ operations with an innovative manure management
BURLINGTON, VT, SEPTEMBER 10, 2014 /3BL Media/ - Chris Wagner, who owns the Green Dream Farm in Enosburg Falls, has a new set-up that provides him with low-cost bedding for his herd and reduces the greenhouse gas produced by his cows. Wagner was able to install the technology by partnering with NativeEnergy, a Vermont-based carbon offset and project development company, and Ben & Jerry’s, the iconic Vermont ice cream maker.
Wagner’s new equipment processes his cow manure and then composts it. The resulting product is sanitary and makes excellent bedding for his milking herd. As a result, Wagner will no longer have to purchase wood shavings and will see significant savings in the cost of bedding.
As Wagner explained, “The separator/composter will provide ample amounts of high quality bedding for our own use and for sale. Embarking on this project moves us to the next level in managing the manure generated on the farm. It is more than just a waste product. It is now part of our revenue stream.”
The project is financed in part by Wagner himself and in part by Ben & Jerry’s through an offset purchase from NativeEnergy. According to Wagner, “Ben and Jerry's and NativeEnergy helped by significantly reducing the amount of capital I had to come up with by setting up a practical lease agreement for the separator and composting equipment.”
Long known for combining business savvy and social responsibility, Ben & Jerry’s achieves several goals through its investment. It reduces the greenhouse gas emissions in its supply chain, while at the same time strengthening its milk supply. The Green Dream Farm’s 360 cows supply Ben & Jerry’s through the local St. Alban’s Cooperative Creamery.
“This project represents results from the investments of multiple parties,” Jeff Bernicke, CEO of NativeEnergy, said. “People are putting in their money to make this project happen, and it will provide returns for many years. We have structured the project so that Chris Wagner gets savings and value for a decade, at least,, and so that Ben & Jerry’s reduces emissions in its supply chain and helps one of its farmers to prosper for a decade, at least. “
Ben & Jerry’s calls this combination of social and business benefits—Linked Prosperity. The farm’s finances are improved. Environmental performance is improved. And Ben & Jerry’s can remain confident that the local dairy community will thrive.
“NativeEnergy has been a long time partner finding innovative and creative solutions to help businesses like ours act on our values,” said Andrea Asch, Ben & Jerry’s Environmental Manager. “This new opportunity works perfectly with our Caring Dairy initiative to position Vermont farmers for future sustainable success,” added Asch.
“Linked Prosperity is s a wonderful term,” Bernicke of NativeEnergy said. “It captures the essence of what this project accomplishes: people making a strong chain of connections to ensure thriving communities.”
NativeEnergy and Ben & Jerry’s have a longstanding collaboration to bring new carbon-reduction projects on line. Using NativeEnergy’s Help BuildTM model, the two firms have collaborated on new wind and farm-based community-and-carbon projects for more than a decade. The Help BuildTM approach provides up-front funding for carbon value to projects under development. This funding enables projects that need that funding to be built, meaning customers play a direct role in bringing new developments to fruition.
What distinguished the Green Dream Farm project from previous Help BuildTM carbon projects is the clear focus on its delivery on long-term business value to Ben & Jerry’s. The company known for weaving values, like Fairtrade sourcing or non-GMO labeling into its uniquely named ice cream flavors needs high-quality milk to deliver on its product and social promises. Small family dairy farms like Chris Wagner’s are the backbone of Ben & Jerry’s supply. As farming becomes more industrial and requires more capital, finding solutions to the challenges of small farmer’s is important to Ben & Jerry’s. The company’s Caring Dairy Program is designed to assist farmers while encouraging them to adopt best operating practices. The Green Dream Farm is another step in making investments that have impacts across the spectrum of sustainability goals: social, environmental, and financial.
Founded in 2000, NativeEnergy is an expert provider of carbon offsets, renewable energy credits, and carbon accounting software. Through its Help Build™ carbon offset model, businesses and individuals help finance new wind, water, biogas, solar, and other carbon reduction projects with strong social and environmental benefits. More than 60 community-scale NativeEnergy Help Build™ projects have been made possible due to investments from business and individuals, reducing 2 million metric tons of greenhouse gases. In total, NativeEnergy has more than 6 million metric tons under contract in Help Build™ offsets, vintage offsets and RECs. All NativeEnergy carbon offsets undergo third-party validation and verification. Many clients are pioneers in corporate social responsibility, including eBay, Keurig Green Mountain, Ben & Jerry’s, Interface, Stonyfield Farm, Esurance, and National Geographic. Learn more at www.nativeenergy.com.
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