Summer Week #3: Wednesday, June 25th– Group A EOs
In my career thus far, there has been one central organizing theme: action towards an environmentally better way of doing things. In college, I protested destructive logging in the Hoosier National Forest, helping coordinate one of the first successful tree-sits east of the Mississippi. Freshly diploma-ed, I landed a coveted environmental organizing position with Green Corps. I worked on political campaigns (both successful!) in Boston and then Madison to create electronic waste recycling legislation. Once in Madison, I shifted gears and went to graduate school to become an environmental studies instructor. I discovered farming during graduate school. Teaching and farming went side by side for several years. Eventually farming won out, and now I can envision my path for the next 20 plus years.
But just because I’ve found my place in the environmental field, doesn’t mean I’ve finished looking for other ways to work towards my own central theme. Nor has Mike. I’m not going to lie, farming and raising a family reduces our level of involvement in greater environmental issues, but I believe there’s always something more we can do. We bought a Prius in 2009. In 2011, Mike converted one of our tractors to run on electricity instead of gasoline. But this year, we got to realize a huge dream together… 78 solar panels.
Each year we reinvest heavily into the farm. We’ve re-sided a barn and added a tractor shop. We built a pack shed. Last year we bought our first brand new tractor. We’ve added a new well for irrigation. This year we felt all major infrastructure investments in the farm were at a good place, and we decided to spend our reinvestment budget for our very own solar panel system.
If you come to visit our farm (which we hope you do!), you’ll be greeted by 24 solar panels on the roof of our home, and another 54 on the south-facing roof of our pack shed. All told, we’re hoping this system will produce between 80 – 90% of our electricity. We’re 45 days in and at the solstice, so right now we are producing more than we use. It’s so freaking awesome.
We are really proud that we have pulled away from all that coal burning. It’s just so cool to know that the 3 huge walk-in coolers we use to keep your food at the right temperatures post-harvest, is now powered by the sun. That little electrical tractor? Powered by the sun. This computer I’m typing on to communicate with you? Powered by the sun. Just like all the veggies we send your way, we are now powered by the sun.
Being solar powered fits into the theme of our life so well, and it feels wonderful. We hope you will feel very good about this as well. Not only are you supporting organic production, and a family farm, now you can feel even more proud that through us, you’ve unplugged one of your own cords to fossil fuels.
For more coverage on our solar panel project, check out this article from the Isthmus.
Cheers! Enjoy your veggies.
Sincerely, the Noltnerwyss family