Volante Farms is well known for its nursery plants, local produce and grocery items, deli lunches, and impressive array of fresh apples in the fall, but — as they say on TV — “Wait, there’s more.”
The summer rains that refresh our gardens and lawns do double duty at Volante Farms. Their state-of-the-art greenhouse has a rainwater collection system on the roof that redirects rain to a 10,000-gallon collection tank behind the building. A mere one inch of rain can fill the tank, providing a week’s worth of water needed for the greenhouse and nursery plants.
Volante Farms is among the first Needham businesses to participate in GO GREEN Needham, a program to encourage local businesses and organizations to take next steps towards sustainability. As always, we began the process by finding out what sustainable practices their operation has already adopted.
In addition to the rainwater collection system, the greenhouse is designed to conserve water and save money by using a special “flood bench” watering method in two of the bays of plants. An energy-efficient boiler, radiant heating in the concrete floor, and energy curtains on the roof bring additional cost and energy savings.
The new farmstand building features a new boiler, motion detector lights, and energy efficient coolers and condensers. (Look carefully the next time you’re there and see the housing for the insulating curtains that are pulled down over the freezers and coolers at night.)
Addressing food waste and getting edible food to those in need are high priorities. The food rescue group Lovin’ Spoonfuls picks up donations three times a week. The farm also donates to the Needham Community Council and the Brookline Food Co-op. Food that is not edible is composted on-site or picked up by Save That Stuff, a Boston-based waste resource management company.
These and other measures resulted in a 2013 Green Business of the Year Award from Newton Needham Chamber of Commerce.
What’s left to do?
For its next-step commitment to the GO GREEN Needham campaign, Volante Farms will take measures to further improve its recycling operation. They will start by contacting RecyclingWorks, a no-cost state-funded recycling assistance program for businesses and institutions. Going green is a community affair — as businesses find best practices and ways to overcome challenges, Green Needham will be sharing their experiences so others can benefit.