‘Green eggs’: How one family farm is helping the environment
The Jennings family farm in Masstown, Nova Scotia, is near the head of Cobequid Bay, an arm of the Bay of Fundy. It’s an area known for its high tides and its natural, windswept beauty.
“You see wildlife every day,” says Blake Jennings, who will one day be the fifth generation of his family to run Bayview Poultry Farms. “I want to keep it that way.”
That feeling of closeness to the land, and the desire to preserve it, is one of the reasons why Blake’s father, Glen, installed wind turbines on the farm nearly a decade ago. The turbines not only provide green energy, but they also reduce the cost of operating the farm.
As Blake looks to the future, he sees an operation that takes increasing advantage of green power options, be they wind or solar.
Bayview Poultry Farms has about 13,000 laying hens, as well as some pullets and a seasonal pumpkin and squash operation.
It happens to be located in a windy area.
“There are never any bugs or mosquitoes around here!” says Glen. “So it was always in the back of my mind that we could use wind energy.”
A few years back, he and his wife were at a home show in Halifax and met people from a company called Second Source Power. That led to conversations and eventually a decision to install three wind turbines on the farm.
The turbines, Glen explains, are smaller versions of the turbine towers you can occasionally encounter in rural areas, and are meant for homes or farms. The towers are 50 feet tall, and the rotor diameter is 12 feet.
They were produced by a company in Arizona and, apart from a few bugs that were ironed out during the first winter, have been running maintenance-free for about eight years.
And all that time they have been saving the Jennings money.
Glen explains that when the turbines are producing power, it goes to the barns first. Only if the turbines aren’t producing enough do the barns draw from the grid.
“On good days the turbines power the whole farm and dump excess power onto the grid,” he says.
He’s very happy with the system – particularly since it was one of the first of its kind to be installed in Canada.
Glen would advise any farmer looking at alternative energy to “do their homework first” to make sure any wind turbine system they install is reliable and fits their needs.
“But if you do your homework, there are huge benefits,” he says.
Those benefits include both cost savings, and the ability to market the eggs as eco-friendly – a tag that’s proudly displayed on the Bayview Poultry Farms egg cartons.
Blake grew up watching the turbines being installed and was fascinated with the concept from the start. To him, the concept of environmental stewardship seems natural.
He’s proud that the family farm was an early adopter of alternative energy sources, explaining that it’s one of the things that allows Bayview Poultry Farms to differentiate itself from other operations.
And he says people do take notice.
“A lot of people think it’s so cool to have wind power,” he says, adding that he’s even had people thank them for doing their part to help the environment.
As he becomes more involved in the farming operation, Blake is keen to push the envelope in terms of environmental innovation.
The family plans to build a new barn in about five years, and Blake says he’s already thinking about what technologies might be available in the near future to make that barn greener and more efficient.
After all, he says, “I want to save the environment. Why not save money at the same time?”