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Corn: Knee-High by the 4th of July? Not on the Goodrich Family Farm!

Danielle Goodrich in corn field

Danielle Goodrich in corn field

July 14, 2022

Middlebury, VT

Over the 4th of July weekend, Danielle Goodrich-Gingras, Co-owner and Herdswoman at the Goodrich Family Farm, shared a photo on social media that showed that the farm’s corn crop is already taller than she is – appearing to be about 6 feet high.

It used to be that farmers would know that they would have a “good” corn crop if the stalks reached their knees by the 4th of July. Of course, times have changed, and many other factors come into play like rainfall, soil health, and fertilization methods. The latter is what Danielle believes is the reason for the corn’s significant height at this point in the growing season.

Goodrich Family Farm is home to the largest Farm Powered® anaerobic digester in the Northeast, which is owned and operated by Vanguard Renewables. The digester recycles cow manure from the Goodriches’ dairy farm and inedible food and beverage waste from manufacturers like Ben & Jerry’s, Cabot Creamery, and others into renewable natural gas, bedding for the herd, and a liquid digestate used as a low-carbon, nutrient dense, low-phosphorus, and nearly odorless fertilizer by the farm.

This is the first year that the Goodrich Family Farm has only used the digestate as fertilizer. Last year, they began to use the digestate with traditional fertilizer mid-growing season and quickly realized what a difference it could make on their feedstock crops – corn and hay. Typically, a good year for hay meant that the Goodriches would get between three and four cuttings; last year, they had five.

Danielle and her brother Chase, who co-own the family farm with their father, are hoping to see the number of cuttings of hay be around six and are very happy to see how healthy and tall the corn is so early in the season.

In addition to the supercharged nutrients provided by the digestate, there is another added value for our Farm Powered farmers: financial savings. Much of the world’s fertilizer comes from the Balkans and prices are at an all-time high, costing farmers upwards of 40% more than in prior years. Vanguard’s farmers, like the Goodriches, receive the digestate and bedding at no cost, which adds even more savings to their bottom line.

Since completing the Farm Powered anaerobic digester in 2021, the Goodrich Farm has recycled more than 66 thousand tons of organic waste, which is the equivalent impact on greenhouse gas emissions of removing more than thirty-four thousand cars off the road for one year. Additionally, the anaerobic digester provides renewable energy to Middlebury College, enabling the college to meet its net zero initiatives.

As they say, “the proof is in the pudding,” or in this case, corn pudding, and Vanguard’s Farm Powered Process has proved to be a game-changer for both the environment and all of our partners from the food and beverage, energy, and dairy industries.

In pre-pandemic years, the bedding and digestate saved the farm somewhere between $150-175K a year. With the rising costs of traditional bedding, like sawdust and fertilizer we are realizing even greater savings due to the availability of these byproducts for their use.

Danielle Goodrich-Gingras, Co-owner and Herdswoman at the Goodrich Family Farm