Green practices helping businesses create sustainability, longevity

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Barn owls are used as a means of energy-efficient pest control, reducing the need for harmful pesticides.

ACAMPO—LangeTwins Winery and Vineyards is looking to the future.

A six-generation, family-owned business in Acampo, LangeTwins staff is dedicated to sustainability.

The winery has changed hands as each generation inherits the business from the one before. Today, Randall and Brad Lange’s kids run day-to-day operations.

According to Randall Lange, best described as “one of the twins,” the goal is to leave the property in better condition than they inherited it for the benefit of their grandchildren.
“It’s the right thing to do and I do that for my grandchildren and their children,” Randall Lange said.

Randall Lange calls the efforts “generational practices” because they provide for the next generation.

The family’s mission for sustainable farming and winery operations started 30-40 years ago. Throughout that time, Randall said he has noticed an uptick in the number of businesses making sustainable resources available in the Central Valley.

There is no shortage of solar companies knocking on every door in the region and other businesses are touting green benefits, too, including recycling companies and appliance salesmen.

While there are a lot of environmentally friendly niches the business can dip into, water use, pesticide application, land preservation and solar power are four of the big ones for LangeTwins.

“When you try to change the way you farm in vineyards and for wine quality it takes time… not just hours and days. It takes years,” Randall Lange said. “Whatever I change in the vineyard, I have to wait a year to really see if I have an effect on the quality of the grapes and the quality of the wine coming out of the vineyard.”

If there is a negative effect, the practice has to be revaluated. It’s a balance between quality and sustainability.

Randall said much of the magic is found by incorporating the organic practices his grandfather used, and his father got away from, with modern farming practices.
LangeTwins isn’t certified organic and they do use pesticides on site when needed, however, the way chemicals are applied is smart. Instead of targeting a large area and dousing it through aerial application, smaller areas are treated to control insects and disease.

As California agriculture laws change, being at the forefront of these practices keeps LangeTwins out of violation.

For Randall Lange, it boils down to this: “We have to use the tools we have responsibly.”
While quality control and protection of the land for future generations are the most important factors for the Lange family, it takes money.

“Financially it always takes a commitment,” Randall Lange said. “You have to really have a long-term viewpoint.”

For example, LangeTwins has solar panels on site that produce 1.2 megawatts of power per hour.

LangeTwins’ solar array produces 1.2 MW/hour.

The upfront cost, even after taking advantage of both state and federal incentives, takes years to pay off, but once installation and equipment are paid for, the business will start saving money.

For a company that is looking at a long future, it makes sense.
According to research from EnergySage.com, the market average cost of a 5-kilowatt system in California is $16,950, which includes the 30-percent Federal Investment Tax Credit.

They rate the payback period at 6.28 years.

LangeTwins has long invested in water preservation practices, as well, investing upfront capital to save water including technology that allows every gallon of water used to be recycled.

One of Randall’s most prized projects is the business’ desire to restore some of the land once converted to vineyards, replanting indigenous plants such as oak trees and roses instead.

Alan Fryer, owner of Fryer & Associates End of Life Recycling, is offering a different service to businesses in the area.

By picking up and recycling discarded electronics, furniture and other items that would otherwise go in the garbage for free, Fryer alone is reducing the environmental footprint of the Stockton and Modesto areas, as well as Turlock, Escalon and Oakdale.

“I make sure it gets done in the right way. I don’t throw away anything that can be recycled,” he said.

To make money, Fryer sells the collected items to scrap yards and dumps he’s made connections with.

He also works with a thrift store in Modesto called Priceless Treasures.

Ed Stockton, another local resident, is using new technology to offer better energy options to businesses worldwide.

Owner of Hydrogen Technologies, which uses hydrogen technology to provide central heat to power plants creating a more reliable form of renewable energy, Stockton is excited to bring work to Stockton, where Hydrogen Technologies will be headquartered.

He already has interested parties worldwide, including some in Kern County, Alaska and New Jersey.

“You can [use] this anywhere in the world,” Stockton said.

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