There’s no question about it. Any form of agriculture, including the production of nursery stock, requires energy. And, energy costs money. Some may see that as a burden, which it is, but here’s a chance to see it as an opportunity.
This spring, Oregon State University Energy Efficiency Center is offering rural energy audits, thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Qualified, participating rural businesses can receive a comprehensive energy audit worth $1,480, and they’ll pay just $370. As noted by OSU (PDF), “These audits are designed to help rural businesses and farms understand their energy use patterns and identify opportunities to save energy and reduce costs.”
Eligible businesses must be a small agricultural producer located in a rural area as defined by USDA (see this PDF for more info). For more information on the audit process and program requirements, check out this information sheet (PDF).
This program ties in nicely with two initiatives currently being undertaken by the Oregon Association of Nurseries. OAN launched its Sustainability Initiative last summer as well as its Climate Friendly Nurseries Project (CFNP) (in conjunction with the Oregon Environmental Council). Several of the nurseries taking part in the CFNP have conducted energy audits, and all reported that they found ways to save energy and money.
In the June edition of Digger, we’ll have more to say about sustainability, CFNP and energy audits. In the meantime, let us know if you decide to take part in the energy audits program.