Thursday, September 21

Urban Farm goes off the grid with new solar panels

By Christy Ulmet

Two large black panels hang above the door on the south side of the barn at the Urban Farm. With just these two panels, the farm is able to sustain its own electricity.

In an effort to be energy independent, the Urban Farm hung the two 100-watt solar panels to power outlets and lights in the recently built barn facility.

The project, which was spearheaded by Chris Farrell, professor of biology and the environment, was funded entirely by grants.

“Projects like these demonstrate that we’re energy independent. We don’t have to even have wires for this. We’re powered by nature,” Farrell said.

Jason Adkins, environmental projects coordinator and farm operator, partnered with Farrell on the project. The pair has some ideas in mind that could potentially be powered by the solar panels.

The farm, which has seen a couple attacks by stray animals, is in need of some good security, said Farrell. In the future, he would like to see security cameras and motion detectors–powered by the solar panels–to keep the animals and the property safe.

“The idea is that we would have a camera or two if people want to look in on the goats for fun or make sure they’re okay. We have a lot of eyes on the campus to help keep the animals safe,” Adkins added.

Farrell, who is passionate about social justice issues, also said that he would like to be able to operate the on-campus farm the way a farm would operate in a third world nation. He added that in third world countries, learning to adapt to what you have in the environment around you is crucial.

“All of our farming techniques are done in a way that can be done in the backwoods of Swaziland, for example. We’re trying to demonstrate things that are possible to do in the third world,” Farrell said.

Farrell also hopes to someday be able to collect rainwater and filter it for the animals in order to avoid high plumbing costs and the need for pipes.

“We want every aspect of our operation to be an expression of the care of creation, of good stewardship, and of consideration for future generations,” Adkins said.

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