Sustainable Estate

In the late 19th century when he built his grand estate, George Vanderbilt’s goal wasn’t just to have a place to relax and entertain family, friends, and business associates. He also wanted a place that would preserve the environment in and around Asheville that he had grown to love.

It’s not surprising then that the nation’s first planned and sustainable forestry program was started at Biltmore, where Vanderbilt’s vision for a sustainable estate began and continues today.

In addition to the solar power and biodiesel programs that I reported on for the NC Science Now story Biltmore Science, Biltmore’s winery has installed a cork recycling program. Biltmore is working with TerraCycle, a company which collects corks and “upcycles” them into other products. Corks are collected in the estate’s restaurants and the winery tasting room.

Biltmore is also promoting its “Farm-to-Table” program. Fresh produce as well as hormone-free and antibiotic-free beef, lamb, free-range chicken and eggs are used in the estate’s restaurants. Biltmore says it is committed to buying 10% of the food used on the property from local or North Carolina farmers.

All of the restaurants on the estate compost food waste to be used in agriculture. Biltmore recycles the fryer oil from its restaurants into biodiesel fuel, which is then used in estate farming and service vehicles. And just like that, George Vanderbilt's Biltmore Estate is the sustainable estate he envisioned.

— Frank Graff

Frank Graff is a producer/reporter with UNC-TV, focusing on North Carolina Science Now, a weekly science series that airs Wednesdays, beginning in August 2013, as part of North Carolina Now on UNC-TV. In addition to producing these special segments, Frank will provide additional information related to his stories through this North Carolina Science Now Reporter's Blog!


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