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Methane digester focus of McGovern’s annual farm tour

  • Peter Melnick of Bar-Way Farm explains how the farm’s methane digester works to U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern Aug. 31 during the congressman’s annual tour of local farms. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

  • Peter Melnick of Bar-Way Farm explains how the farm's methane digester works to Congressman Jim McGovern Wednesday during the congressman's annual tour of local farms. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo—Andy Castillo

  • Peter Melnick of Bar-Way Farm explains how the farm's methane digester works to Congressman Jim McGovern Wednesday during the congressman's annual tour of local farms. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo—Andy Castillo

  • Peter Melnick of Bar-Way Farm explains how the farm's methane digester works to Congressman Jim McGovern Wednesday during the congressman's annual tour of local farms. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo—Andy Castillo

  • Bar-Way Farm, Deerfield MA. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo—Andy Castillo

  • The tour group at Bar-Way Farm in Deerfield, MA. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo—Andy Castillo

  • The Kitchen Garden farm owners Caroline Pam and Tim Wilcox pose with Congressman Jim McGovern. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo—Andy Castillo



For the Gazette
Thursday, September 08, 2016

DEERFIELD — A small group of state, local and federal officials gathered on an overcast morning last week at Bar-Way Farm to view its cutting-edge methane digester and learn what the machine can do to create a more sustainable Pioneer Valley.

In the group were Congressman James McGovern, D-Worcester, who visited as part of his sixth annual 2016 farm tour, and Brad Pfaff, deputy administrator for farm programs with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency.

“It’s an environmentally good way to deal with all that food waste,” McGovern said. “It’s a great example of the ingenuity of our local farmers.”

After it opens later this year, the methane digester will convert cow manure and food waste from local supermarkets and restaurants into energy — 1 kilowatt of electricity — and heat.

“It makes everyone’s operation sustainable,” said Peter Melnick, a partner in the farm. “There’s lots of little relationships that go on in the Valley, and it’s helpful for everyone.”

The group also stopped at other farms in the area, including The Kitchen Garden farm in Sunderland, where owners Caroline Pam and Tim Wilcox explained how they make sriracha using home-grown peppers, and several in Hadley.

McGovern’s yearly tour is intended to open lines of communication with farmers in his district. He is a member of the House Committee on Agriculture.

“It’s the way that policies get formed,” said James M. Newland, Franklin County executive director for U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency. “Lawmakers need to hear directly from the people who are affected by the laws.”

Next year, the agriculture committee will vote on legislation that will affect farmers. McGovern said his tour comes in preparation for those decisions.

“Farmers in Massachusetts need to be more than farmers,” he commented after the tour ended. “They need to be businessmen and innovators.”