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Community News

January 19, 2011

Farmers discuss energy-saving ideas at Hobart Rotary event

Thanks to the Hobart Rotary Club, local farmers have a few more ideas about how to save energy on the farm.

The club held its eighth annual Farmer Appreciation Day meeting at the Hobart Community Center on Saturday, with a presentation by Dick Riseling of Apple Pond Farm.

Introduced to the audience by Rotary Club Co-Chairmen John Adams and Andrew Flach, Riseling briefly described the Renewable Energy Center that he and his partner, Sonja Hedlund, started on their Callicoon farm, and what it does to educate the public about possibilities.

According to Riseling, Apple Pond Farm has several systems that create energy, including an American-made wind turbine, solar collectors and used vegetable oil heating and vehicle power. But beyond these technologies, Riseling said he and Hedlund want to teach a more powerful lesson: one that emphasizes "rediscovering what we are wonderful at," Riseling said.

At Apple Pond Farm, the experiences and expertise of Riseling and Hedlund are carried out to broader audiences through tours, classes, internships and presentations such as the one Riseling gave Saturday.

"Often people see the turbine and ask about how much more power we get from it," Hedlund said, but cautioned that "this is not the objective. It is about using less power, not making more power so we can use more."

Riseling encouraged farmers to look in their own backyards to increase the efficiency of their operations.

"There is talent everywhere," Riseling said. "Look locally for welders, machinists, engineers, fabricators, builders and suppliers. The government follows big corporations who have failed us, and local solutions are the answer."

Riseling's outline of the possibilities for change begins with his belief that "we are the people we have always been looking for."

Turn off lights, use less fuel, insulate effectively, have a free energy audit done as well as converting to alternative power resources; these items are the basis for change he said. Riseling spoke with certainty about the fact that every community has a wealth of skilled and talented innovators who need to be discovered.

Rotary leaders spoke about the organization's commitment to rediscovering local knowledge and know-how resources, and efforts to make sure programs are accessible to local farmers.

"Each year, we decide on a time that might fit into a farmer's schedule, both the season and the hour," Adams said. "We want to be able to show them that we appreciate what they do."

One local farmer, Rick Holdridge of Humdinger Holsteins in Bloomville, talked about the amount of fuel costs that his family farm has saved by installing a modern outdoor wood furnace.

Holdridge explained that this unit supplies heat to his dairy barn and house, saving about 2,000 gallons of oil each year. The unit is clean, money-saving and provides ample comfort, he said.

Other farmers present talked about energy-saving measures on their farms and possible ways to save more in the new year.

Find out more about upcoming Hobart Rotary meetings by e-mailing requests to Learn about the Apple Pond Renewable Energy Education Center at

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