So, here is my most recent publication, the cover story for this week’s Isthmus. Researching this piece turned me into a believer in the benefits of whey, and Tera Johnson has made me believe that her whey is best for both my body and my planet. Check it out:
Tera Johnson begins the tour of her one-of-a-kind organic whey processing plant at its back entrance, in front of a double-wide delivery bay. Here, on busy days, 20 tanker trucks roll in to deliver up to a million pounds of the sloshy cheese byproduct.
Wisconsin Specialty Protein, which opened early last year, occupies an eight-acre section of the Reedsburg industrial park, strategically located in the middle of exceptionally productive dairy country and a carefully protected network of Baraboo River Valley wetlands.
“The landscape architect who worked on this project, his dad studied with Aldo Leopold,” says Johnson, a Madison-area resident. “He got very excited when I asked him to implement native landscaping on a hardcore manufacturing site. He drew a plan that looks a bit like Eden.”
Johnson waves toward a landscape that supports a pair of nesting cranes. “See that tall grass?” she asks. “That’s an industrial-strength rain garden designed to handle all the stormwater on the site.”
She notes that the city of Reedsburg, like Madison, imposes a stormwater utility charge based on how much runoff a property owner generates. “We don’t have to pay it because of how we landscaped. People think green is more expensive. Not necessarily. It actually costs us less to have the rain garden.”
It’s innovative thinking like this that has earned Johnson more awards than she has time to hang on her office wall. Wisconsin Specialty Protein’s $14 million processing facility won a gold medal award in the green building category as an Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin 2009 Project of Distinction.