Hobby Farms

Five Tips to Get Started


CHECK LOCAL ORDINANCES: The first step is to find out what is possible in your area and within the confines of whatever space you have available. If local ordinances aren’t clear, contact local policymake­rs for guidance. Gina Thurn of Our Kids Farm in Exeter, Rhode Island, encourages people to not give up at the first “no,” but rather to keep advocating for themselves and to find out what might be possible if they just ask.

SECURE THE SOLAR: Whether it’s leasing panels from a local company, working with a research facility or university, or installing your own panels and selling the energy to a utility, make a plan for how you will get the panels in place. Look into what kind of panels you will use, and make sure to account for the height and distance between rows you will need. Make sure that the utility company is on board with agrivoltai­cs before you get too far into the process, especially if you are leasing equipment.

PLAN THE PRODUCTION: If you’re looking to grow crops, do your research into what will grow well in your area, as well as what grows well on a solar array. If you want to run livestock, consider what type of livestock will work well.

For example, goats are likely to destroy solar panels, whereas sheep are more prone to leave the equipment alone. Make sure you plan what you will grow and how you will grow it, as well as how you will preserve the solar array at the same time (i.e., protecting wires, navigating equipment, etc.).

PHONE A FRIEND: There are many agrivoltai­cs research projects across the country, from those funded by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to those housed at or sponsored by major universiti­es, such as Colorado State University, the University of Arizona, University of Massachuse­tts and many more. Plus, many private solar companies have their own research projects. Reach out to any of these in your area, and see if there are lessons learned they can share.

You can also reach out to farmers in your area who have implemente­d agrivoltai­cs. Use the InSPIRE Agrivoltai­cs Map (https:// openei.org/wiki/InSPIRE/ Agrivoltai­cs_Map) to find resources and informatio­n near you.

TRIAL & ERROR: Just like any other venture into hobby farming, it takes time to get it right. Take risks, ask questions and keep trying!

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States