Brookhaven has gone from using spent beer grains to feed farm animals to using coffee grounds to enhance townwide composting efforts.
Officials say the expansion was a natural progression for its Brew to Moo program as Brookhaven strives to make the town more environmentally friendly.
“The Brew to Moo program is another step in the right direction by the town to help reduce waste and do what is best for the environment,” Brookhaven Town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine said in a statement.
The program began last year when craft breweries in Patchogue and Port Jefferson signed on to donate the grain left over from the brewing process to the Double D Bar Ranch farm in Manorville, which cares for 350 unwanted or abused animals. Instead of breweries disposing of the grain at the town landfill, the town picks it up and delivers it to the farm, saving the breweries money on trash fees and the farm money on livestock feed.
The program expanded after Brookhaven got a call from a coffee shop owner who wanted to donate coffee grounds, said Brookhaven Town recycling coordination aide Erich Weltsek. The grounds are now used for composting at Hamlet Organic Garden in Brookhaven hamlet and supplements other composting efforts at the town landfill.
Brian Lentini, co-owner of the East-Patchogue based Ace Coffee Co., said he was already driving hundreds of pounds of his company's coffee grounds to the organic garden each week for composting when he asked about joining Brookhaven’s program about a year ago.
“It just started to be too much work,” Lentini said of dropping the grounds off by himself. He added that he's always been a fan of composting.
In addition to the Manorville ranch, some of the grains collected from breweries are occasionally dropped off at the Suffolk County Farm in Yaphank to feed cattle, Brookhaven officials said.
Earlier this month, the Patchogue Beer Project became the fourth brewer to join Brew to Moo. The others are The Rocky Point Artisan Brewers, BrickHouse Brewery and the Port Jeff Brewing Co. More than 180 tons of grain have been used to feed livestock since the program’s inception 14 months ago.
Town officials say programs like this are the future of waste management on Long Island. “Feeding brewery waste to animals is not a new concept, but is revolutionary on Long Island,” Weltsek said.
He added, with Brookhaven’s landfill closing in the coming decade, innovative solutions to the waste problem need to be found.
“This program is just a step toward a larger solution,” he said.
In January, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation awarded Brookhaven a $33,000 grant to help the program. The funds went toward the town's purchase of a rack dump truck to transport spent grains and heavy-duty containers with lids for on-site storage.
At least once a week, Brookhaven trucks drop off between 3 and 15 barrels of grains at the Manorville ranch.
Ranch co-owner Gay Devoe said the program saves her roughly $2,000 a month in animal feeding costs.
“It’s been amazing,” she said, adding that the savings go toward routine repairs and maintenance such as sheds and fencing.
The "Brew to Moo" program now facilitates farm animal care and composting. Over the last 14 months:
187 tons of spent grain has been fed to farm animals.
12 tons of coffee grains has been used for composting.
6 tons of grain has been composted.