Altura, Minn.-The Kreidermacher family has a history of innovation. Now several members of the family are being recognized for that spirit by being named AURI’s 2009 Ag Innovator of the Year. The award was presented June 18 in Winona.
After years of growing vegetables and flowers for family and friends on their Winona county farm, Ed and Joyce Kreidermacher took the plunge in 1985 and built a full-fledged greenhouse on their land near Altura, Minnesota. They raised a wide variety of plants and for a while even marketed some of their pork products through their retail store.
Today the Pork and Plants operation covers about 1.3 acres, with 65,000 square feet of covered greenhouse producing thousand of perennial and annual plants as well as vegetables. Everything sold in the Pork and Plants greenhouse is grown on-site.
The newest innovation to the family operation is the construction of an on-site grinding and pelleting operation run by brothers Eric and Paul Kreidermacher. This affiliated business called Alternative Energy Solutions, produces biomass pellets from agricultural biomass, ag processing leftovers, native grasses and even wood waste. The pellets are then burned in boilers to heat water that is pumped through the greenhouse to provide heat.
"When people think of biofuels most of them think of big operations like ethanol plants," Eric Kreidermacher says. "But this is another example of what can be done."
Using products like corn stalks, oat screenings, soybean straw and prairie grasses, Alternative Energy Solutions is helping the Pork and Plants operation cut their energy costs by about half using alternative biomass fuels.
"This is a great example of producer-owned energy because they are using a renewable biomass product, some that they produce themselves, and are converting it to heat for the greenhouse operation," says Alan Doering, senior associate scientist for coproducts. "What they are doing is truly innovative."
The Ag Innovator of the Year Award recognizes a Minnesota business that has shown innovation in the development of an agriculturally-based product that has positively impacted Minnesota producers. Alternative Energy Solutions is the 8th Minnesota business to receive the award.