In early November we were approached by Dr. Abram W. Kaplan from Denison University in regards to a class project for his Environmental Planning & Design Class. Evidently, a few of his students had attended a local township zoning meeting and had found interest in knowing more about our creamery facility and property.* Those students proposed to Dr. Kaplan the idea of using BRC as a case study for their upcoming project that focused on environmentally minded concepts for a business.
We decided that it would be foolish to pass up on this opportunity and with no hesitation, we agreed to this awesome idea!
We took the class to the future creamery site, gave them a tour of the land, and filled them in on our plans as well as future goals. As a class, they narrowed down the topics they wanted to focus on for us. The students formed groups and decided on their final topics of interest. They included Green Building Materials, Waste Management, Water Management, Energy/Solar, and Native Based Landscape Design.
For the remaining of the semester, we worked with the students on providing crucial information and details to them for their research needs. In December, the class presented their research conclusions and suggestions to us in group presentations. We were beyond impressed with all of the amazing details and hard work they had put into our case study! We honestly don't think it could have gone any better.
Some examples on the research conclusions included the opportunity to utilize solar panels on the creamery facility over wind power. The students discovered that our location was not favorable for wind power needs. They also elaborated on green building materials that would work out great for our very specific environmental conditions inside the creamery building. Almost all materials suggested were made in the USA and some even locally in Ohio... which is bonus points in our opinion! Continuing further, the students suggested some really great ideas for our composting and waste management needs and even engineered sample models for us! (see photo) After cutting off thousands of strawberry tops, as one example, we know we will have a decent amount of food waste available for composting. So needless to say, the information on composting opportunities will be extremely helpful to us!
Overall, we were blown away by the amount of information the class did for us and are truly grateful for having the opportunity to work with them and Dr. Kaplan on this project. We are almost certain that we will be able to incorporate the ideas the students created for us at some point in our timeline. We would love to extend an open invitation to the entire class and Dr. Kaplan (or any of you that may be interested) to check in at any point to see when and how we have utilized the recommendations from this experience!
*(In case you are out of the loop, we have been working a great deal with the local zoning board this past year on getting approval to operate our creamery facility within the township. Under current zoning conditions, our facility would not be approved. We are working with the board on creating a conditional use that would allow us, as well as other agriculturally based artisan businesses, to operate legally in the township without having to rezone to commercial.)