I'm A Pioneer

Area Switchgrass Farmers Recognized as Pioneers in Bioenergy

They were willing to go where few men or women had gone before. Sixteen East Tennessee farmers took a chance on a new crop in 2008, growing 723 acre of switchgrass as an energy crop. Now, just a few years later, switchgrass production has expanded to 61 farmers growing more than 5,100 acres in East Tennessee. Genera Energy and the University of Tennessee recently honored the first switchgrass farmers for their willingness to lead the way and pioneer a new energy crop in the state.

“Taking calculated risks and exercising patience are all a part of farming, “ said Dr. Kelly Tiller, President and CEO of Genera Energy. “Farmers take a risk every time they invest in planting a crop. That pioneering spirit is what we acknowledge and praise.”

University of Tennessee President Dr. Joe DiPietro and University of Tennessee Head Football Coach Derek Dooley joined Dr. Tiller in recognizing the farmers during a dinner held at Neyland Stadium in late July.

Pioneers in Bioenergy honorees included:

• Scott Anderson, Loudon County

• Jerry Armstrong, McMinn County

• Jerry Barr, Monroe County

• Brad and Kim Black, Monroe County

• Alfred Davis, Monroe County

• Gene Hartman, Roane and Meigs Counties

• Jerry Richardson, McMinn County

• Randall Peters, Monroe County

• David Richesin, Loudon County

• Harry Rymer, Bradley County

• The Stokely Company, Monroe County

• Jim Self, Roane County

• Van Shaver, Loudon County

• Casey Skelton, McMinn County

• Clyde Thurman, Rhea County

• Dillon Vanzant, McMinn County

For the past three years, Genera has been working to build a biofuels industry in the state of Tennessee. Since its inception in 2008, Genera has built one of the world’s first demonstration-scale cellulosic biorefineries; partnered with local farmers to grow switchgrass in East Tennessee; and is currently developing a Biomass Innovation Park for the processing and storage of biomass (switchgrass) for cellulosic ethanol production.

Genera has partnered with DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol for the operation of the demonstration-scale biorefinery.