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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Rick Adamski: A Not-so-Typical Dairy Farmer

Rick Adamski (left) began researching wind turbine options at the Midwest Renewable Energy Fair in 2005, where he talked with turbine installer Dave Blecker of Seventh Generation, the company that installed Adamski's turbine.

From an article and interview with Rick Adamski in RENEW Wisconsin's newsletter:

Though he modestly calls him self a typical dairy farmer, Rick Adamski’s Full Circle Farm in Shawano County belies that description. Adamski runs an all-organic operation with grass-fed cattle, free-ranging chickens, a solar hot water system on the farmhouse, and a 35- kW wind turbine standing tall in the pasture.

Adamski farms the 240 acres across the road from the house where he was born and where his 86-year-old parents still live. Wife Valerie, son Andrew, 18, and daughter Jenna, 13, help out with the work.

He inherited his land use ethic from his parents, who were the model of “conservative use of resources – not a scrap was wasted.” This approach was a matter of survival for them growing up during the Great Depression.

As a student at University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point, Adamski became acutely aware of modern agricultures complete dependence on fossil fuels. Though he would eventually earn a degree in soil science and resource management, Adamski began thinking about a more sustainable approach to farming, with an emphasis on natural grazing and renewable resources.

In 1984 Adamski decided to strike out on his own as a farmer. Though he wanted to go organic from the get-go, the process took time. Now he sells everything he produces to Organic Valley Cooperative.

Rick and Valerie hosted a pasture walk this summer, which drew several hundred people. Along the way the crowd stopped at the foot of Adamski’s 110-ft.-tall wind turbine, the newest sustainability feature at Full Circle Farm, where they heard Rick highlight two key factors that made this installation possible: Focus on Energy incentives for small wind systems and We Energies expanded net energy billing program for wind generators under 100 kW.

Q. Is your dairy farm typical of those in your community?

It is typical because it is what used to be representative of this community. This area has a strong history of dairy farms owned and operated by families. Our farm is certified organic since 2003. There are three organic dairy farms in the township.

Q. How does owning a 35 kW wind generation system add value to your farm?

I think it diversifies the source of income for us. At current conditions the cost effectiveness is marginal. However, as climate change, diminishing fossil fuels, competition for these limited fossil fuels, and an ever-growing world population put more upward pressure on these traditional nonrenewable resources, the energy generated by our wind turbine will only increase in value.

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