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A roadside sign informs passerby of the Farm Fresh Fuel project in Grand Isle County, Vermont. Photo credit: VSJF

A roadside sign informs passerby of the Farm Fresh Fuel project in Grand Isle County, Vermont. Photo credit: VSJF

A small revolution is happening in Grand Isle County, a declaration of fuel independence: In 2012, ten farmers and landowners tried their hand at growing sunflowers to have the oil made into biodiesel to fuel farm equipment or heat their homes.

Many farmers want to diversify their operation, control and lower fuel costs, and become more self-sufficient. Additionally, locally-grown renewable energy will support the agriculture economy. In Grand Isle County, growing their own biodiesel can save farmers more than $2.00 per gallon, according to a new study released by the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund (See the report, Vermont On-Farm Oilseed Enterprises: Production Capacity and Breakeven Economics). Emerging feedstocks and new technology takes know-how, and the Vermont Bioenergy Initiative (VBI) at Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund is taking steps to overcome barriers to energy self-sufficiency on the farm.

With funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, Borderview Farm staff and UVM Extension researchers guided the planting, tending, and harvesting of more than 60 acres of sunflowers in the 2012 growing season for the Grand Isle Farm Fresh Fuels Project. Each farmer planted two to ten acres of sunflowers, growing more than 30 tons of sunflower seeds. The seeds will be pressed into 3,000 gallons of renewable, low-emission biodiesel and 26 tons of oilseed meal  to feed livestock or use as pellet fuel.

For the UVM researchers, coordinating the project, overcoming some of the logistical challenges, and shepherding a successful crop of sunflowers into the storage bin at Roger Rainville’s farm was all part of the job. The lessons learned this year in Grand Isle County also contribute to a growing body of knowledge that is helping farmers in other regions put more acres under oilseed production and save money on their fuel bills.

To learn more about the Farm Fresh Fuel project, visit the UVM website and the Oilseeds section of this website.

algae conference sponsor logos Vermont

“Algae and Energy in the Northeast was co-hosted by the University of Vermont, Vermont Epscor, and Vermont Bioenergy Initiative.

A conference on Algae & Energy in the Northeast, co-hosted by the University of Vermont and the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund, was held at the University of Vermont in Burlington on March 17 & 18, 2010.

Topics covered include:

  • Overcoming challenges to algae feedstock production in the Northeast
  • Algal harvesting, lipid (oil) extraction, and biofuel conversion
  • Uses and markets for algal oil and by-products
  • Concurrent poster session featuring algae R&D projects.
algae and energy northeast conference sponsors

The conference “Algae and Energy in the Northeast” was sponsored by Vermont Technical College, Renewable Energy Vermont, Carbon Harvest, Algae Power, General Systems Research, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, and Algae Biomass Organization.


Some of the foremost algae researchers and entrepreneurs presented the current state and projected future of algae as a biofuel feedstock, including:

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