Cranberry farm solar arrays
Farm solar array (photo courtesy of Michael Paduch).

Michael Paduch, a farmer in Carver, Massachusetts, has more than 20 acres of cranberry bogs. But with prices low in recent years, he’s started harvesting a new crop on his land: energy.

Paduch: “Economically, it’s been difficult to figure out how we’re going to sustain our farm with the price of berries not even able to cover the cost to grow them.”

Paduch thought the land might also be used for solar.

Paduch: “One is it’s a wide open space, so there’s plenty of sunshine. Two, it is a piece of property by its nature that generally isn’t useful for anything else. It’s typically a wetland.”

Several years later, a solar array covers four acres of his cranberry bogs. It produces a megawatt of energy – enough to power more than 100 homes.

'The solar thing is a win, win, win. Everybody wins on this ...' Click To Tweet

And best of all, the cranberry vines thrive in the shade created by the panels. They don’t produce quite as many berries, but Paduch can grow and sell the plants to other farmers.

Paduch: “I’m farming the sun and I’m producing something that’s really good for my town, good for the environment, good for the world. The solar thing is a win, win, win. Everybody wins on this, and I’m glad to be a part of it.”

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.

AUTHOR
Jan Ellen Spiegel is a freelance writer and editor based in Connecticut. In 2013, she received a Knight Journalism Fellowship at MIT on energy and climate.

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