Bob Giacomini Dairy uses an anaerobic digester to convert cow manure into energy that powers their dairy along with the family’s on-site cheese making operations. Installed in 2009, the digester project was partially funded by grants from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the California Energy Commission, and administered by Western United Resource Development, Inc. (WURD), and PG&E’s Self Generation Incentive Program. Hot water is recaptured from the system and used both in the milk parlor and in the cheese plant, saving approximately $1,000 a month on propane costs.
Other conservation measures the farm takes include rotational grazing of their cows, which helps to keep soils healthy and prevent harmful erosion into Tomales Bay. Furthermore, in order to preserve their open space and working landscapes, they transferred their development rights to the Marin Agricultural Land Trust.
In addition to land stewardship, diversification is a top priority for the Giacomini’s operation. In 2010, they opened The Fork, a culinary and educational center situated on their property. Agri-tourism has been an integral component to the marketing and promotion of their products, especially considering their belief that experience creates brand loyalty for both trade and consumer customers that visit them from across the country. Their property is considered a poster child for the region and the dairy industry, and they have been recognized for their leadership with the 2013 Leopold Award.
Like most farms across the state, however, the Giacominis have faced record drought and they worry about whether they’ll have enough forage for their cows. The farmers aren’t only concerned for their 800 animals, but also wonder whether the farm will have enough drinking water especially considering the source is a ground well.
IFES Number: 167
City: Point Reyes Station
Type of Firm: Farm
Main Products: Cheese (dairy)
Size of Firm: 720 Acres; 800 Cows
Operational Status: Operational
Year Installed: 2009
Energy Feedstock: Cow manure
Energy Produced: biogas production: 25,000 cu_ft/day
Energy Uses: Cogeneration
Money Saved: $1,000/month
TCO2 Eq Avoided: 2249 metric tons CO2E/yr