By April SorrowUniversity of GeorgiaHalf of all the fruit grown in Georgia is never eaten by people or animals. It rots in the fields. A University of Georgia researcher says that spoiled fruit could fuel cars. That wasted fruit can be converted into bioethanol through a fermentation process, said Elliot Altman, program coordinator for the UGA Center for Molecular Bioengineering.“All fruits are 10 percent sugar, or potentially 5 percent ethanol,” said Altman, an engineer with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “It’s a real opportunity.”The fermentation process could create a high-protein byproduct, which can be used in animal feed, called dried distillers grain.The largest opportunity in Georgia lies in watermelons and peaches. Last year, the state harvested one billion pounds of watermelon and more than 61 million pounds of peaches. The same amount rotted in the fields. The fruit is left behind because it doesn’t make the grade for commercial sale. Consumers don’t want fruit that doesn’t look perfect, even though it is fine to eat in most cases. Some of the discarded fruit is used in preserves and juice, but 50 percent never leaves the field.Ethanol conversion is not possible on a small scale like biodiesel operations. Getting enough commodity groups excited about converting the waste to fuel is one battle Altman hopes legislation may help with. “One farmer isn’t big enough to set up operation,” he said. “If packers knew in advance the fruit would be used for something, they could gather it in a separate place for transport to the ethanol plant.” Government regulations mandate the blending of 5 percent ethanol into gasoline by 2009 and 10 percent by 2011. The Renewable Fuel Standard program will increase the volume of renewable fuel required to be blended into gasoline from 9 billion gallons in 2008 to 36 billion gallons by 2022. But, ethanol plants aren’t cheap. “You can’t build a small plant,” he said. “To be cost effective, most experts agree that a plant would need to produce at least 10 million gallons of ethanol a year.”Altman and his colleague Mark Eiteman, a biological and agricultural engineering professor, are working on techniques to simplify the commercial ethanol plant, making it cheaper to produce ethanol and DDG.For example, their group has researched adding expired table sugars to increase the ethanol yields that can be obtained. Access to waste fruit is not a year-round venture, he said.“Even with a couple of fruits, a fruit-ethanol plant would only be operational for half a year, and the infrastructure for an ethanol plant is a significant investment,” Altman said.Altman is currently researching several other products – like grain sorghum – that could be used when the fruit is not available. “It has silo storage capability and is able to grow in areas of Georgia not suitable for anything else,” he said. “It does not take away from other crops and would not hurt the food market.”Georgia also has potential to produce ethanol from bakery waste. “We have a unique niche in the Atlanta area with our bakeries.”(April Sorrow is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)
Rise and shine, gear up, hit the slopes (or trails), spend the day with the youthful side of Old Man Winter, then raise a pint to starry sky and toast True Winter—in Tucker County. Nestled on the tip-top of West Virginia with elevations jutting over 4,250 feet, and with an annual average snowfall of up to 180 inches, Tucker County is winter the way nature intended—wild, intense and invigorating.Canaan Valley Resort offers downhill skiing and boarding with trail ratings ranging from beginner to blow-your-mind. Cross country skiing and snowshoeing on miles of marked, ungroomed trails provide interaction with nature. And if you’re more snow angel than conqueror, you’ll love Canaan’s tubing park and ice skating arena with its own outdoor fireplace. With an expansive, untamed backcountry, White Grass Ski Touring Center is one of the premier touring centers in the east. Nordic centers provide tours, lessons, maps, backcountry information and equipment rental. Blackwater Falls State Park, with its six-story waterfall that is stunning whether flowing or frozen, offers over ten miles of trails, many groomed for cross country, and a quarter-mile sledding hill. Looking to extend mountain bike season year-round? The all-terrain fat bikes offered at Blackwater Bikes in Davis allow the biking enthusiasts to ride even with snow on the ground.As great as they are, snow sports are just the beginning of Tucker’s True Winter experience. From fresh music performances and special events to legendary libation, you’ll be glad you played up an appetite and a thirst. There are plenty of local favorites to please the palate and warm the soul. The always-happening Purple Fiddle in Thomas offers great brews and live music and floorboards that never stop shaking. Whether you need the warmth of a gourmet coffee or the bracing bite of a Moscow Mule, the Tip Top Coffee Bar is always the right choice. Or sample some interesting brews at one of West Virginia’s largest full-scale microbrewery, Mountain State Brewing Company.In nearby Davis, an authentic taste of New York awaits at Sirianni’s Pizza Café, with mouthwatering pizza, pasta and sandwiches. As its name implies, Hellbender’s Burritos can conquer even the most serious appetite. Stop in to experience Tucker’s newest brewpub, Stumptown Ales, or grab a cold one at Blackwater Brewing Company to complete the true Tucker County pub crawl. Canaan Valley also offers several great dining choices. Enjoy casual dining in a pleasant atmosphere at White Grass Café, or savor a homemade meal at Amelia’s Restaurant. Big John’s Family Fixin’s offers up hardy fare and the area’s largest arcade. And full-service dining by the fireplace at Canaan Valley Resort is a good place to start, or continue, a tradition. Whether you’re staying the weekend or a week, lodging options are diverse and the hospitality is warm and inviting in Tucker County. Canaan Valley’s new 160-room lodge offers luxury and great views, while cozy Bed and Breakfasts offer intimacy and charm. Or choose a quaint rental cabin or accommodating house, many with slope convenient slope access. There’s winter, and there’s True Winter, only in Tucker County. Begin your authentic winter adventure at wvmountains.org or 888-975-SNOW.
Operation Toy Drive