Barbour farm
Barbour’s barn with solar panels covering the roof. (Photo credit: Barbour Grass-fed Beef / Facebook)

On Ted Barbour’s Pennsylvania farm, beef cattle graze on grassy hills. Behind them sits an almost 100-year-old barn with solar panels covering the roof.

Barbour’s decision in 2010 to go solar was part of a larger effort to farm sustainably. He does not use pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, or growth hormones on the farm. And he rotates the cattle through his fields to avoid over-grazing.

But investing in solar also made financial sense.

Barbour: “Our return on investment with the tax credits and so forth was about 4 and a half years.”

Today, the system offsets much of the farm’s energy use. And when it generates more electricity than the farm uses, the extra is sold back to the grid.

Barbour: “I don’t apologize for saying that one of the components of sustainability is profitability. Because if you can’t make a profit, you can’t sustain yourself.”

Barbour says the solar array is not only a smart financial investment, it’s also good marketing. It shows consumers that he’s committed to protecting the environment and reducing the farm’s carbon footprint.

Barbour: “Customers come to our farm to purchase their beef, and it’s good to show not just the cattle and the beef, but the fact we’re doing things in a sustainable way.”

So he says solar has been good for both the climate and his bottom line.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.

Topics: Food & Agriculture, Jobs & Economy