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Energy tours demonstrate various ag efforts

Two upcoming tours about energy conservation and energy efficiency topics are designed to start a conversation about the area's future.

The University of Wisconsin-Extension offices of St. Croix and Polk counties are planning two tours of the area, showcasing energy saving and eco friendly practices.

The first tour will focus on agriculture and energy production. It's planned for 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 26, through the St. Croix County office. Cost is $35 per person if registered by Aug. 25.

The tour will feature projects that are applicable to the community, farm, business and homeowner.

"It's not meant to promote (the stops)," said Pete Kling, UW-Extension community resource development agent. "It's to say, 'this is what's going on around you and let's have some critical thinking about this.'"

The tour is open to area residents, elected officials and anyone else interested, Kling said. Quite a few elected officials have already registered, he said.

"It's important for elected officials and citizens to be able to kick the tires and see how these things work," he said.

The farmland preservation plan is being updated, and discussions need to be held to determine where residents and farmers would like to see agriculture go.

Stops on the agriculture and energy production tour include:

• A Future Farm LLC: Aquaculture and biogas. A Future Farm, near Baldwin, is in the process of constructing a 27,000-square-foot greenhouse that will grow Tilapia fish, lettuce and herbs, all powered by the methane produced from a dairy farm, according to their website.

• Jon-De-Farm: St. Croix biogas project. The St. Croix Biogas project is a proposed local gas line that will hook into an existing interstate gas line that goes through Baldwin. The St. Croix Biogas project has not been installed yet.

• Schmitt Timber. The company has received a federal grant to produce wood pellets to heat homes.

• Vino in the Valley Restaurant. The restaurant and vineyard provide great views. Cost of the meal is included in the ticket price.

• 5 Star Dairy: Anaerobic digester. The dairy runs an anaerobic digester to produce electricity for Dairyland Power.

• Western Wisconsin Energy: Ethanol plant.

Discussions will take place before the tour starts, between stops and after returning to the Extension office.

To register for this tour, contact Pete Kling at 716-684-3301, ext. 5. Registration and payment can be mailed to UWEX Cooperative Extension, 1960 Eighth Ave., Suite 140, Baldwin WI 54002; or e-mailed to

The second tour will focus on sustainable communities. It's planned for 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 9, and offered through the Polk County extension office. Cost for this tour is $30 (includes lunch) if registered by Sept. 2, or $40 for late registration.

This tour will feature:

• St. Croix Falls Green Building: St. Croix Falls Library.

• Osceola Middle School Solar and Geothermal Projects:

• St. Croix County Government Center.

• River Falls Green building: City Hall.

• Sustainable Solutions: Decision Matrix Bus.

To register for the sustainable communities tour, contact Bob Kazmierski at 715-485-8600. Registration and payment can be mailed to 100 Polk County Plaza, Suite 210, Balsam Lake, WI 54810.