No matter where you fall on the spectrum of debate concerning environmental issues, it just makes sense to make our society more sustainable. From big government projects to small garage based businesses, Garrett County is making a community-driven commitment to sustainability. These steps demonstrate that even the smallest initiatives can help make companies more profitable while simultaneously reducing waste.

Whey for Pigs: Turning Cheese Byproduct into Sustainable Feed
One notable initiative involves local farmers collaborating with Firefly Farms to repurpose whey, a byproduct of cheese production, as a high-protein feed supplement for forest-raised pigs at Wildom Farm. This tackles waste reduction in cheese production and creates a sustainable and nutritious food source for livestock. “Each week, we pick up between 1,000-2,000 gallons of whey from Firefly to give to our forest-raised pigs,” said Julie Friend at Wildom Farm. “I’m sure people have heard of whey protein powder, but the whey we pick up is liquid because it’s a combination of the whey and water – it’s only about 10% whey and 90% water. They drink it like little bodybuilders. The system for picking up the whey is straightforward, we take two 300-gallon IBC totes strapped onto the back of our pick-up truck. Firefly has a cooling tank full of a couple thousand gallons of whey. We pump the whey from their tank into our totes and drive home – the process takes about 20 minutes, and the result is very happy hogs!”

Renewable Energy and Electric Vehicles: Powering a Greener Tomorrow
Garrett County has embraced renewable energy through the installation of solar panels and electric vehicle charging stations. The solar panels provide clean energy to homes and businesses, significantly reducing the community’s reliance on fossil fuels. Simultaneously, promoting electric vehicles aligns with efforts to reduce air pollution and move towards a more sustainable transportation future.
Zero-Waste Farming: The Beauty of Lard-Based Moisturizer
Another commendable effort comes from a mission to achieve zero waste at Wildom Farm, mentioned above. By using all parts of the animals harvested for meat, including rendering pig fat into a lard-based moisturizer, the community is demonstrating an ethical approach to farming. The moisturizer, rich in fatty acids, is environmentally friendly and offers health benefits, proving that sustainability can align with practicality. “I think it is our ethical responsibility to use all the parts of the animals that we harvest for meat. Our goal is to be zero-waste on the farm, and to me, that means using all the parts of the animal,” Friend said.

Blue Moon Rising Project: A Holistic Approach to Sustainability
According to the Blue Moon Rising website, “A cornerstone of Blue Moon Rising is that nothing goes to waste. Each tree removed was carefully evaluated so they could be reused elsewhere on the project. Whether as trim, a support post, or simply as wood to fuel the highly efficient masonry stove, these trees have been given a new life in the fabric of Blue Moon Rising. The dirt removed during excavating foundations was carefully sifted and mixed with clay, water, and lime to become the natural plaster coatings on the interior and exterior straw bale walls of our flagship building, “The Leap”. With construction complete, we continue to apply earth-first principles to the day-to-day operations of Blue Moon Rising.”

Dani Starre Studios: Eco-Chic Home Decor and Upcycled Fashion: Infused with Sustainability
Dani Starre Studios adds an artistic flair to sustainability by creating stylish home decor and one of a kind upcycled and patchwork clothing from eco-friendly and upcycled textile waste. The foundation of Dani Starre Studios is firmly built upon the core principles of resourcefulness and sustainability, reflecting the essence of America’s heritage. Essentially, we advocate for a return to simplicity, shunning the culture of overproduction in favor of mindful, one-of-a-kind creations. Each piece stands as a testament to our dedication to craftsmanship and longevity, intended to be treasured and passed down through generations.
“My aim to reduce waste helps to minimize our impact on the environment. By purchasing these items, you can express your commitment to the environment,” said Danielle Luscombe, the artist and owner of the Studio. You can see more at www.etsy/shop/Danistarre

Solar Systems and Wind Project Feasibility: Powering the Future
Collaborating with SolarCity, Garrett County has taken significant steps in adopting renewable energy. The installation of solar systems on county-owned property aims to provide a substantial percentage of the county’s annual power consumption, marking a substantial leap toward energy independence. Additionally, the exploration of a community wind project demonstrates a forward-thinking approach to further offset electricity use. The project consists of a relationship between Garrett County and SolarCity to install three solar systems on county-owned property. It is estimated the systems will provide approximately 35 to 40% of the county’s annual power consumption. The project is financed through a 20-year purchase agreement with SolarCity. And according to a statement issued at the time of the installation, “At the end of the 20 year period the county has the option to purchase the array.”

In the late 2010s, two 50-meter towers on loan from the Maryland Energy Administration were erected in Garrett County. These anemometer towers are collected data for one year at two county-owned locations. ​Then, the Fourmile Wind Project, a 40 megawatt project, consisting of 16 turbines went into commercial operation. This community wind project should help offset County facility electricity use.
In conclusion, Garrett County is on its way to further sustainability, showcasing that a small community can make the steps to make an impact. By fostering innovative practices, repurposing waste creatively, and embracing renewable energy, the residents of Garrett County are not just talking about sustainability—they are living it. In a world grappling with environmental challenges, Garrett County stands as a testament to the power of collective action and community-driven solutions.