PAVILION – Even the largest butter sculptures have to come to an end.
After an 18-day visit to the Great New York State Fair, the 53rd Annual Butter Sculpture is put to new use at Noblehurst Farms.
About 800 pounds of the sculpture’s remains were delivered Tuesday afternoon to face their ultimate fate. What had once been a buttery rendition of children playing was now, well, a huge pile of glop.
“We brought the butter back from the New York State Fair today,” said Vice President Chris Noble of Noblehurst Farms. “The Cornell Master Gardners put it in plastic bags for us,”
The butter was emptied from plastic bags and mixed on the farm with watermelons, pumpkins and other food scraps collected from Wegmans stores and local universities for recycling.
“We’re going to run it through our system which combines food scraps with our cow manure to create biogas in our anaerobic digester, and that biogas will be burned for electricity,” Noble said.
Noblehurst Farms has been using butter for years.
This year’s sculpture, “Back to School, Sports and Games… You’re Going to Need Milk for That,” featured three scenes: teenagers in a school cafeteria, on a soccer field, and at home games. .
The three-part masterpiece illustrated that, whether at school, playing sports or playing with friends, dairy products are an important part of meals and snacks, providing essential nutrients for learning and physical activities.
“It was a great play this year and I brought my daughters out because they really liked soccer players,” Noble said. “It was bittersweet, but at the same time we are offering a circular loop here. Butter is made from milk in Batavia, then brought to the fair, created a beautiful sculpture, then brought back here to create renewable energy that will generate electricity to run our farm to help recreate milk .
The butter was donated by the Batavia-based O-AT-KA dairy cooperative to the New York State Fair to help create the popular sculpture.
The play was created by Jim Victor and Marie Pelton and was a donation O-AT-KA CEO Bill Schreiber said he was happy to make.
“Butter is food and generally the butter we give out there has a packaging defect,” he said. “There is nothing wrong with butter. A package may be incorrectly coded or damaged in some way. For some reason, the packaging was damaged and we couldn’t go to market with it, so it made sense to give this butter to the sculpture.
Shreiber has been with the O-AT-KA dairy cooperative for about 10 years and said he has always worked to help people at state fairs and the farmers who work so hard to produce quality products.
“I have always been an advocate for farmers and butter in general,” he said. “You don’t have to go so far back in time to when butter was demonized and people ate margarine because they mistakenly thought it was best for them. It is an opportunity to promote butter and its many positive attributes.
In addition to showing off the butter, he also hopes to educate people about its nutritional values.
“Butter is a wonderful product and sometimes people misinterpret the nutritional value of butter,” he said. “Butter is rich in all fat soluble vitamins. Vitamins A, D, E. Vitamin A supports your body’s natural defenses and immune system, vitamin D is for bone growth, and vitamin E plays a role in maintaining healthy skin and reducing damage caused by UV and sunlight. So butter does, can and should be part of a healthy diet if consumed in moderation. It is a wonderful product.
In addition to the health benefits, Noble said the renewable energy created from the butter could be enough to provide electricity to the local home for about three days.
“The anaerobic digester is basically like a big stomach heated to around 104 degrees and is steeped in a lot of bacteria,” he said. “So just like your stomach, bacteria eat food and create gas, and that gas is then used as renewable natural gas to create electricity.”
The anaerobic digester is a 1.3 million gallon container filled with food waste and manure. This is something that some say benefits not only Noblehurst Farms, but the entire community.
“The methane that would normally have been emitted from the decomposition of organic matter such as butter is now captured in this large dome and no longer goes into the atmosphere and is used for beneficial purposes and that is a good thing for the environment, ”Noble said.
From large-scale renewable energy projects to smaller ones, members of the American Dairy Association say everyone can make new uses for the products.
“Reduce, reuse and recycle is something we can all do in our daily lives,” said Emma Swarthout, American Dairy Association NE. “It’s something we can all keep in mind at home, starting your own composting like watermelon rinds, apple peels and things like the ones you can’t eat. Even paying to make sure you get rid of your cardboard and bottles and things like that, it’s just something that can really add up if we do them all.