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Burnbrae Farms serves up eggs from solar-powered facility

2 offerings from company's Woodstock farm to be sold in Ontario, Quebec, Atlantic Canada

Burnbrae Farms' solar-powered Ralos Farm in Woodstock, Ont. (Courtesy Burnbrae Farms)

The sunny-side up eggs you enjoy for breakfast or brunch may be more literal than you think. Burnbrae Farms is now marketing two brands of chicken eggs from a solar-powered Ontario farm.

The Naturegg Omega Plus Solar Free Range and Naturegg Solar Free Range eggs sold in Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada are sourced from Burnbrae’s Woodstock, Ont. Ralos farm, which is 100 per cent powered by solar energy.

“Our family has always had a community mindset in all that we do, and so it follows that we are committed to doing our part to protect the planet,” Margaret Hudson, the president and CEO of Lyn, Ont.-based Burnbrae Farms, told Sustainable Biz Canada in an email exchange.

Hudson cited an American Express’ Trendex survey from 2022 that found 64 per cent of Canadian adults want to make more sustainable purchasing choices as proof-of-market interest in the sustainably produced eggs.

The initiative is part of Burnbrae Farms’ 2050 net-zero pledge, which Hudson said ties to her family’s 130 years of farming sustainably.

The solar-powered egg farm

The Ralos farm, open since 2019, runs entirely on clean power provided by roof-mounted solar panels on three barns and generates a surplus that is shared with a second nearby Burnbrae farm.

High-efficiency motors, lighting equipment and ventilation systems installed at the Ralos farm minimize energy consumption in the chicken barns. A battery system stores energy for use overnight or when clouds obscure the sun.

The eggs from the Ralos farm are packaged under Burnbrae Farms’ Naturegg Omega Plus Solar Free Range and Naturegg Solar Free Range brands, which acknowledge being sourced from a solar-powered farm.

Burnbrae Farms took its experience with solar energy from the Ralos farm and is applying it at a second solar field in Lyn, where the Hudson family purchased its original homestead in 1891. The Lyn solar farm generates 500 kilowatts of energy per year, and like the Ralos farm, sends excess energy to the grid.

Supporting sustainable eggs

Hudson said eggs from the Ralos farm do cost more than eggs which are not sourced from the solar-powered farm.

“Investing in solar technology is a substantial undertaking, making the introduction of a sustainable product like Naturegg Solar Free Range eggs to the market consequently more expensive,” she said.

It also came at a cost to the company as most of the project was self-funded, according to an interview Hudson held with the Woodstock Sentinel Review. But the cost is justifiable because of Burnbrae Farms’ commitment to sustainable practices, she told Sustainable Biz Canada.

“Our secret to success is that Burnbrae Farms is family owned and operated and because it is a privately held business, decisions can be made with a long time horizon, unlike in many public companies where decisions may be made with short payback requirements,” Hudson said.

Burnbrae Farms has set out to be a net-zero carbon emissions company by 2050 and zero waste-to-landfill by 2025, which are ongoing initiatives according to its 2022 Sustainability Report.

The company started its clean energy transition with moves like purchasing green electricity from Bullfrog Power in 2009 for some of its brands such as Free Run Omega 3 Eggs. To cut back on its direct emissions, Burnbrae Farms placed an order for two electric tractors in 2022.

For 2023, Burnbrae Farms planned to develop its decarbonization strategy and calculate its Scope 3 emissions. Hudson said the company has captured its supply chain emissions data and will be reporting the figures in its next sustainability report in April 2024.

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