For Immediate Release
Feb. 3, 2006

SHELBURNE, VT -- An exciting new technology was tested in a historic old building last Friday. The Grass Energy 
Collaborative, a new organization committed to developing grass energy as a renewable biofuel, tested grass 
pellets as fuel with a day-long burn in the furnace of the Farm Barn at Shelburne Farms.

The Collaborative, with membership representing universities, researchers, technology pioneers and 
environmentalists, is investigating pelletized grass as a fuel with benefits for land stewardship, economic 
development, a healthy environment and energy independence. At a time when energy concerns are a hot topic, even 
making it to President Bushs State of the Union speech last week, the prospect of an energy source that is 
affordable, sustainable and secure has captured the imagination of potential users, as well as farmers who see it 
as a possible new profit center for their farms.

Proponents of grass pellets as fuel describe a process where farmers would cut grass late in the season, typically 
from land that had been left fallow or was planted as a buffer strip to prevent pesticide and silt runoffs into 
streams, bale it and put it through a pelletizer to produce half-inch diameter pellets. The pellets can be burned 
in commercial heating systems, such as the ChipTec gasifier that is used at the Farm Barn.

Present for the inaugural burn were the founders of the Grass Energy Collaborative, President Jock Gill of 
Medford, MA and Peacham, VT, Jerry Cherney, a professor of agriculture at Cornell University who has been 
researching grass biomass for over 20 years, Averill Cook who installed two pellet heating systems which have been 
using wood pellets on the Farm last year, and GEC Treasurer Marshall Webb of Shelburne Farms. Professor Cherney 
donated the pellets, made in Canada from grass harvested from land owned by Cornell University, for the burn.

Mr. Gill began looking into alternative energy sources after he and his family made plans to move to a historic 
house in Peacham and found that, as it had no insulation, it was going to be prohibitively expensive to heat. 
Lucky coincidence brought him into contact with heating system entrepreneur Cook, grass energy researcher Cherney 
and Webb, special projects coordinator at Shelburne Farms and a long-time champion of ecological causes. Shelburne 
Farms is a 1,400-acre working farm, national historic landmark and nonprofit environmental education organization 
whose mission is to cultivate a conservation ethic by teaching and demonstrating the stewardship of natural and 
agricultural resources.

The Grass Energy Collaborative was incorporated in Vermont as a non-profit in December of 2005.  Its purpose is to 
demonstrate the viability of grass as a renewable energy source and to promote grassland stewardship for a healthy 
environment, economic development and energy independence.

Webb said that Shelburne Farms is committed to switching to renewable sources of energy, and producing as much of 
that energy as possible on the farm.  Grass energy, he said, could conceivably replace the 20,000 gallons of 
propane and 24,000 gallons of fuel oil currently used annually for heating, as well as a significant portion of 
approximately 675,000 kilowatt hours of electricity.

During late summer of this year, The Grass Energy Collaborative will harvest approximately 300 acres of grass on 
Shelburne Farms and land nearby, press it into 1/2 diameter pellets, and store these pellets in silos owned by 
Meach Cove Trust in Shelburne.  The grass pellet fuel will be burned in a few commercial heating systems, one of 
which will be the ChipTec gasifier located in the Farm Barn.

	Next heating season, Shelburne Farms hopes to heat the Farm Barn entirely on pellets made from grass 
harvested on the farm. All the participants stressed that the technology is in its development stage and that 
Fridays burn was designed to show whether any modifications need to be made to the Farm Barn furnace to 
efficiently burn this fuel.  A more extensive two day test will occur in about three weeks time. Members of the 
collaborative are also hoping to raise funds to develop a portable pelletizer that could be moved from farm to 

	The Grass Energy Collaborative has touted its pelletized grass fuel as an answer to several problems, 
including the $600,000 per minute being spent on foreign fossil carbon energy, the need for strategies that will 
mean long term economic viability for the 350,000 mid-sized farmers in the U.S. who work 40% of agricultural land 
and are at risk, the non-point source pollution of streams and lakes from sediment, fertilizers and pesticides, 
the risk inherent in control of the fossil fuel supplies by sometimes unstable foreign governments, the 
inefficiency of centralized power plants and the negative net energy return on some current fuels, such as 


For information about The Grass Energy Collaborative or to request a copy of the GEC Working Paper, please contact:
Jock Gill
(802) 613-1444

For information about Shelburne Farms, please contact:
Rosalyn Graham
(802) 985-8686