TAP project helps Rendleman Orchard get surplus fruit to food banks

Boxes are loaded onto a truck for delivery to the food bank (photo credit: Zach Samaras)
Rendleman Orchards worker loads boxes onto a truck for delivery to a food bank (photo credit: Zach Samaras)

ISTC and Feeding Illinois partnered with Rendleman Orchards during the 2021 growing season to ensure no fruit went to waste. Through the USDA’s Farm to Food Bank grant, Feeding Illinois was able to pay Rendleman Orchards its picking and pack-out costs (PPO) which represent the farm’s costs to harvest and package the product and enabled the donation of the peaches, nectarines, and apples. The fruit was either off-spec, meaning it did not qualify to be sold in typical primary markets due to size/weight/blemishes, or surplus, meaning that the farmer did not have a buyer or market outlet for the fruit. The project team helped Rendleman Orchards avoid waste, recoup their costs, and provide fresh local nutritious fruit to Illinois neighbors in need.

Rendleman Orchards started by providing 48 cases of peaches to Tri-State Food Bank’s Vienna, IL hub. After initial success, St. Louis Area foodbank and Northern Illinois Food Bank began receiving cases of peaches and nectarines as well. As demand grew from the food banks, Rendleman Orchards aggregated peaches and nectarines from neighboring Flamm Orchards.

Each week Rendleman Orchards reached out to a specific contact at each food bank with quantities available. Interested food banks placed orders with Rendleman Orchards by the end of the week and either pick-up or receive a delivery the following Tuesday. Tri-State Food Bank and Northern Illinois Food Bank orders were delivered, while St. Louis Area foodbank picked up directly from the farm. All invoices were sent to Feeding Illinois and were paid upon confirmation of receipt from the food banks.

By the end of the 2021 growing season, Feeding Illinois reimbursed Rendleman Orchards $272,182 to cover the PPO costs for the donation of 567,085 pounds of Illinois-grown fresh fruits: 7,458 cases (372,900 lbs) of peaches; 539 cases (26,950 lbs) of nectarines; and a combined 167,235 pounds of bagged and bulk apples. An additional $10,420 was paid for associated deliveries to the four recipient food banks.

Read the full case study.

U.S. Department of Energy announces investment to further develop carbon capture technology via FEED study

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (DOE-NETL) selected the University of Illinois for $4 million in funding, in addition to cost share contributions by LafargeHolcim and Air Liquide, for research and development to support a front-end engineering design (FEED) study of a carbon capture retrofit at an industrial facility in Missouri.

Read the LafargeHolcim news release.

DOE publishes survey of U.S. federal and state-level solar system decommissioning policies

DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) recently published A Survey of Federal and State-Level Solar System Decommissioning Policies in the United States. ISTC’s Jennifer Martin was one of the report’s peer reviewers.

The report provides a survey and brief overview of both Bureau of LM and U.S. statewide solar decommissioning policies, and a discussion of some of the potential impacts different policy designs may have on utility-scale solar development, including impacts that might influence construction timelines and over project costs.

Read the full report on the NREL website.

Illinois Farm to Food Bank Project connects specialty growers with food banks

Peaches being washed in a crate
Photo credit: Zach Samaras

This fall, the Illinois Farm to Food Bank program wrapped up its pilot project with Rendleman and Flamm Orchards in Union County. Nearly 375,000 pounds of peaches and nectarines were distributed to food banks throughout Illinois.

Michelle Sirles of Rendleman Orchards said, “The Farmer to Food Bank Pilot was a HUGE Success. Every single person we worked with went above and beyond to make this a successful pilot year. It could not have come at a better time with the over abundance of peaches nationwide. It prevents a lot of peach dumping. It recouped farmers costs while providing fresh and healthy food for those in need. As a farmer we felt completely supported by Illinois Farm Bureau, our politicians, our state university, and our food bank partners. I truly feel this could be a shining star program for our state.”

The program also connected Roth Countryside Produce, located in Tazewell County, with a Peoria Area Food Bank agency to purchase $1750 worth of sweet corn, green cabbage, red cabbage, green beans, cantaloupe, bell peppers, green zucchini, golden zucchini, and seedless cucumbers.

Keep up to date with the program through the Farm to Food Bank Feasibility Study newsletter. If you’re a grower who wants to participate in the project, contact TAP.

New case study: Tiny Bubbles Mean Big Energy Savings for Henry POTW

Example of micro bubble aeration floats Credit: John Jacobs, WTR Solutions
Example of micro bubble aeration floats Credit: John Jacobs, WTR Solutions

With assistance provided through TAP’s Public Water Infrastructure Plant Efficiency Program, the City of Henry Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTW) replaced their existing lagoon aeration system with Micro Bubble Diffusion (MBD) technology, resulting in significant energy cost savings and a reduction in the dissolved solids present in their treatment lagoons.

Read the full case study.

Listen to Coastal Hazards Specialist Vidya Balasubramanyam on the Teach Me About the Great Lakes podcast

On the July 19 episode of the Teach Me About the Great Lakes podcast, hosts Stuart Carlton and Carolyn Foley spoke with ISTC Coastal Hazards Specialist Vidya Balasubramanyam about lake level change and her work with municipalities to adapt to it. Tune in for an all-too-rare dose of optimism and a particular fact about donuts that, while true, we hadn’t considered before.

Coastal Management Program adds two researchers

ISTC’s Coastal Management Program (CMP) recently added two Coastal Studies Specialists to their team.

Cody Eskew
Cody Eskew

Cody Eskew recently re-joined the CMP team by way of the University of Illinois’ Prairie Research Institute (PRI). Cody provides project management support for CMP objectives on coastal hazards, community resilience, coastal habitats, sustainable economic development, and coastal recreation.

Learn more about Cody on the Prairie Research Institute’s People of PRI blog.

 

Tara Jagadeesh
Tara Jagadeesh

Tara Jagadeesh brings expertise in communication, data science, and community engagement to support projects for the CMP, including the Shoreline Management Working Group.

Learn more about Tara on the Prairie Research Institute’s People of PRI blog.

ISTC staff honored by Prairie Research Institute

Two ISTC staff members have been honored by the Prairie Research Institute.

Vidya Balasubramanyam
Vidya Balasubramanyam received the Prairie Research Institute’s 2021 Early Career Investigator Award.

Vidya Balasubramanyam, a coastal hazards specialist at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC), is the recipient of the Prairie Research Institute’s 2021 Early Career Investigator Award.

Vidya’s work supports the Shoreline Management Initiative with the Coastal Management Program (CMP). The project entails coordination and facilitation of land managers from each coastal community working on regulatory and permitting issues; understanding and translating relevant research; developing and shepherding demonstration projects, and broader education and outreach on the issues.

Read a Q & A with Vidya about her work on the People of PRI blog.

Chad Hankins
Chad Hankins received the Prairie Research Institute’s 2021 Outstanding New Support Staff Award.

IT technical associate Chad Hankins is the recipient of the Prairie Research Institute’s 2021 Outstanding New Support Staff Award.

Chad joined the PRI desktop support team in 2019. This small team of three assists PRI’s hundreds of staff in using a wide range of IT tools. The institute’s already considerable IT support needs grew exponentially during the COVID-19 pandemic as most staff shifted to working from home and needed to adapt to new ways of collaborating, communicating, and working. He works extensively with ISTC staff to keep them connected.

Read at Q&A with Chad about his work on the People of PRI blog.

Springfield to become home of world’s largest carbon capture program

Read the full story from WICS.

Springfield is set to become the home of the world’s largest carbon capture research program.

The U.S. Department of Energy announced the construction phase of the $67 million research project at City Water, Light, & Power (CWLP) to study how to decrease carbon emissions into the atmosphere.

“You could really see a situation where people from across the globe are going to be coming to Springfield to see our progress with this particular project,” Kevin O’Brien said.

O’Brien is Director of the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

New case study features implementation of composting program at Argonne National Laboratory campus

ISTC's applied scientists sort through some of the 7,000 pounds of landfill and recycling-bound materials collected during the ten-day sampling period at Argonne National Laboratory.
ISTC’s applied scientists sort through some of the 7,000 pounds of landfill and recycling-bound materials collected during the ten-day sampling period at Argonne National Laboratory.

What began in 2015 as a waste audit that revealed high-generation of compostable material has led to a multi-year, multi-project implementation plan to collect compostable material from buildings across Argonne National Laboratory’s campus. Argonne’s commitment has diverted over 65 tons from the landfill since 2018, which has helped them meet their federally-mandated performance goal of 50% diversion for non-hazardous wastes.

In order to characterize the types of waste, ISTC’s applied scientists collected over 7,000 pounds of landfill and recycling-bound materials from eight representative campus buildings and sorted it into 23 material categories over a 10-day sampling period. The audit revealed that 43% (by weight) of the materials in Argonne’s landfill stream were compostable. Based on these findings, Argonne and ISTC collaborated to develop and execute an organics collection implementation plan for the campus.

Read the full case study.