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Local Matters: Salisbury Farm wants to turn manure into energy

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SALISBURY - Every once in while a great product name is created through an unlikely source - like chicken poop.

Actually, it's called "manure" in the poultry business, and the Maple Meadow Egg Farm in Salisbury may be the first poultry farm in Vermont to harness its power. You've heard of Cow Power. Introducing . . . wait for it . . . Henergy!

Jackie Devoid of Maple Meadow says the farm hopes to install a methane digester that will turn manure into electricity. "We're in the very beginning stage," she says. "It's in our five-year plan to have that capability."

The methane digester would use bacteria to break down the manure into methane gas. The gas is used as fuel to generate electricity. A number of dairy farms in the state are using methane digesters under the Central Vermont Public Service (CVPS) Cow Power program. Once up and running, CVPS would pay Maple Meadow for the electricity it creates via the digester.

There are 80,000 chickens at Maple Meadow. Foster Brothers Farm's Vermont Natural Ag Products in Middlebury currently buys the poultry manure for composting at $4 a cubic yard.

That's a lot of manure, and we have plans for it all," says Devoid. "In agriculture, you have to be aware of all your options. There is such a small profit margin, you have to look at all the angles to make the farm more efficient."

Devoid recently registered the name with the state to insure no one else would use it. She said her husband George came up with it.

"We were driving somewhere and he said, 'If we get this methane plant up and running, I've got a great name for it,'" she recalls. "And I just started laughing and said, 'I think that will work.'"

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