EASTON, Conn. -- An organic farm in Easton is among four Connecticut farms that have received energy grants to save on the cost of electricity.
The USDA Rural Energy for America grants went to Gilberties Herb Gardens, a commercial organic farm in Easton, and Howling Flats Farm family-run animal farm in North Canaan.
Farms in Lebanon and Litchfield also received the grants, which will enable the farms to re-allocate monies used on "expensive energy costs" towards "growing and strengthening" the businesses, according to an announcement by U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal
Gilberties Herb Garden in Easton received $75,825 to provide energy efficient improvements, including LED lighting and a heating system upgrade.
The upgrades will provide savings of 171,836 kilowatt annually, equivalent to powering 15 households.
Howling Flats Farm in North Canaan received $28,652 to purchase and install a26 kilowatt solar PV array, which will offset 100 percent of their current and future energy needs.
Kelley Babbin who owns Howling Flats with her son and his fiancee, told Daily Voice the grant will go towards converting heaters and freezer lights, among energy-saving measures at the farm.
The farm raises pigs, goats, chickens and turkey that are stress-free with ethically sound practices, said Babbin.
They sell to home deliveries and restaurants.
Energy conversions at Gilbertie's includes major changes at the farm's 16 greenhouses of switching over from oil to gas heat, and all lights on the entire farm are being converted to LED, owner Sal Gilbertie said.
"It's a great opportunity for us.
The wholesale farm opened in 1986 and has a retail location at 7 Sylvan Lane in Westport, a garden center Gilbertie's grandfather opened in 1922.
"We got bigger as we (moved to) wholesale. Our herbs and vegetables needed a bigger location and we bought a dairy farm and converted it. We have four acres of greenhouses," he said.
The farm is 100 percent, certified organic and grows herbs, vegetables and cut greens.
The farm sells to 60 markets, including Whole Foods stores and independent supermarkets, Gilbertie said.
"Investment in renewable energy technology like solar and wind helps drive down energy costs, reduces our reliance on fossil fuel and foreign oil, and allows reinvestment in jobs nationwide," said Blumenthal.
“The transition from carbon-based to alternative and clean energy sources is vital for the health of our families and the environment and the security of our nation," said U.S. Rep. Jim Himes.
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