With the sun floating high above the farm like a helium balloon, the long days of July are overflowing with energy. A walk through the vegetable field this time of year is punctuated by double takes of amazement at squash plants crawling yards away from where they were just a blink ago, or broccoli heads that bubbled up overnight. Of course, the vigor of July applies to all plants, including the weeds, but even they are amazing in their own right. The green explosion of summer that we bear witness to every year is both mundane and magical all at once.
Every minute the sun is shining, every green leaf we see in the world is repeating the process that is responsible for all life on earth.
- carbon dioxide + water + light energy → carbohydrate + oxygen + water
An equation so easy to see, and so easy to forget because it doesn't require anything from us. The linch pin of the equation is the light energy that has been showing up for the green party every day since the beginning. As we slog through the long afternoons of July, we are literally bathing in that energy (and the resulting sweat!). It suddenly becomes clear that as farmers we are not really vegetable growers, beef grazers, or egg producers, but rather light harvesters, carbon converters, and water cyclers. The name of the game is to gather as much free light energy as we can without inhibiting the carbon and water cycle.
You might have thought that this newsletter was going to be all about the 7.6 kW grid tied photovoltaic system pictured above that is now powering the farm homestead. We could talk at length about the 12 year payback term, the Clean Energy Credit Union loan that is funding the array, or the cool app that allows us to monitor our energy output in real time. You may have even expected to read about how this system will prevent over 8,000 pounds of CO2 from being emitted at a coal burning power plant every year, equivalent to taking the average car off of the road. But really, it is the 100 year old white oak in the background that has been harvesting light and carbon since the last pandemic that is the star of the century. The solar panels are pretty fantastic too, but capturing free energy is old news. We welcome you to check out the solar system the next time you are at the farm, and if you have time, you can see the panels too!