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30 | Elizabethtown Magazine

In 2009

, Mike Brubaker—the husband of Elizabethtown College Class of 1991 alumna Lisa Sauder Brubaker—and two additional co-owners of Brubaker Farms began a partnership with Elizabethtown College on an innovative waste-to-energy project, which not only is helping the environment but also is offering financial benefits to the partners.

This project is one of the many novel initiatives that earned Brubaker Farms the title of 2011 Innovative Dairy Farmer of the Year from International Dairy Foods Association and Dairy Today magazine.

A Commitment to the Land

Mike Brubaker has been on farms all his life. “I grew up on the farm, working ever since I could walk,” he says. Like most privately owned farms, everyday responsibilities at Brubaker Farms are a family affair. Lisa cares for the calves, and the kids help “wherever we can plug them in,” Mike says.

Being tied to farming and the land, it’s only natural that Mike understands the need for sustainability. “The farmer typically grows crops in the field, which feed the animals, which either make milk or are used for meat production, and the waste products from the animals go back on the field to fertilize the next crop, so that’s sort of a sustainable cycle,” reflects Mike, noting that he’s always looking for green opportunities. “In the last few years, I’ve been passionate about finding more ways we can be sustainable … or asking, ‘What other resources are we overlooking that can be tapped here on the farm?’”

A Bold Eco-Friendly First Step

Asking that question has led to several new practices at Brubaker Farms, which are resulting in both financial savings and a more efficient use of resources. The most notable of these was the purchase of an anaerobic methane digester in early 2007.

Anaerobic methane digesters use microorganisms to break down biodegradable material, such as cow manure and other

College’s Sustainability Partner Recognized Brubaker Farms

Named 2011 Innovative Dairy Farmer of theYear

by Nathan Derr ’11

Twice a week, a specially retrofitted vehicle, carrying organic waste and waste water from Elizabethtown College’s dining facilities, travels the short distance from campus to the Brubaker’s scenic dairy farm, located in Mount Joy, Pa. Instead of marking the waste materials’ final journey, this trip actually is the first step in its reincarnation as electricity.

Lisa and Mike Brubaker with Josh, 15; Molly, 17 (back row, R); and Lydia, 12).

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