With the help of two Ohio State graduates, Land-Grant Brewing Company is aiming to become more sustainable, both environmentally and socially.
Vincent Valentino, an alumnus of Ohio State’s Environment, Economy, Development and Sustainability program, is leading the Franklinton brewery’s efforts in environmental sustainability.
“In the same way that one of my semesters in EEDS was a bunch of different ways to look at the same thing, what I’m doing now is a lot of different aspects of sustainability at the same place,” Valentino said.
Valentino, formerly a Land-Grant bartender, became its sustainability manager in November 2016, after pitching sustainability measures to company owners.
Spent grain, spent yeast and trub — all byproducts of the brewing process — are produced in large amounts every day and can be harmful to the environment. Spent grain can overfill landfills and spent yeast can corrode pipes and pull oxygen out of freshwater ecosystems.
Instead, Land-Grant worked in partnership with local farms, such as Waterman Farm –– located on West Campus –– and St. Stephen’s Community Center to divert spent grain and spent yeast by using them as cattle feed and nitrogen enricher for soil. This year, Valentino said he plans to find ways to divert trub, a post-fermentation residue which one article dubbed “the grossest part of brewing.”
As part of the partnership, Land-Grant has used pumpkin from Waterman Farm and mint from St. Stephen’s Community Center in seasonal brews.
Valentino said he hopes to further relationships with local farms.
“Last year was basically [trying] to be generally sustainable and [trying] to set up something for everything. We dipped our toes in the water everywhere,” he said.
Although there’s a moral drive for Land-Grant’s sustainability measures, Valentino said there’s also a financial incentive.
Land-Grant uses large amounts of water, heat and gas. Valentino’s primary focus last year was to find efficiencies in utility operations that benefit the bottom line. He said the savings are “relatively sizable.”
Jackie Kemble, Land-Grant community partnership manager, said by making minor changes Valentino was able to save the brewery nearly $10,000 in 2017.
In addition to environmental sustainability, Land-Grant also is working to become more socially sustainable.
“When we look at social sustainability it basically means we want to be good stewards to our neighborhood. We want to try to put back as much as we might possibly be taking in the long term,” Kemble said.
Kemble, also an Ohio State graduate, has assisted Land-Grant brewing in working with more than 100 nonprofit organizations. She said Land-Grant gave $50,000 and 120 volunteer hours in 2017.
Among Land-Grant’s social sustainability measures is Community Happy Hour, in which registered nonprofit initiatives can use the taproom as space to tell people about the initiative and keep 20 percent of the proceeds from the evening.
Kemble said there are a variety of ways for Land-Grant to promote social sustainability, many of which are monetary.
“But a lot of it comes down to exposure and also us just showing up with a shovel,” she said.
Social sustainability can often be an integral part of environmental sustainability within a community, Kemble said. But in an impoverished area like Franklinton, thinking about ways to become more environmentally sustainable and efficient isn’t always at the forefront, Kemble said.
“If you’re worried about how you’re gonna put gas in your tank, then you don’t have an extra $500 to replace your washing machine,” she said. “We have to get it to the level where people have enough energy to think about environmental sustainability.”
Both Kemble and Valentino said the owners of Land-Grant, whom Valentino called “a very progressive set of people,” were an important part of the move toward sustainability.
“It’s very important to us and we hope that more companies, small and large, implement programs like these in the future for the general well-being of all of us,” Kemble said.