These barrels will be culled from Hiram Walker & Sons distillery and turned into fuel to heat Nature Fresh Farms' greenhouses. ( Courtesy Nature Fresh Farms )

Culled whiskey barrels from distiller Hiram Walker & Sons Ltd. is fueling growth in greenhouses at Nature Fresh Farms, Leamington, Ontario.

The companies began a partnership in 2018, and Nature Fresh Farms has turned more than 25,000 former whiskey barrels into fuel for the grower’s biomass boiler, according to a Nature Fresh Farms news release.

Each month, Hiram Walker, based in nearby Windsor, sends about 400 barrels (along with other scrap wood) to Nature Fresh Farms, that are shredded and stockpiled for cold months. The wood chips are fed into the boiler system, which heats the water pumped throughout pipes in the greenhouses to warm them. So far, about 1,125 tons of wood from Hiram Walker has heated Nature Fresh facilities.

Darren Taylor, in customer service and planning, bulk operations, at Hiram Walker & Sons, said it’s a win-win for the companies.

“Hiram Walker has an environmentally friendly way to dispose of barrels and Nature Fresh Farms receives a good supply of clean-burning oak wood,” Taylor said in the release.

The biomass boilers at Nature Fresh Farms is one of the company’s sustainability strategies.

“We are in an industry that has the capacity to produce significant positive change,” Dave Froese, energy manager at Nature Fresh Farms, said in the release. “Teaming up with Hiram Walker & Sons gives us the opportunity to continue to make a difference by reducing the amount of materials that end up in landfills.”

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