Medway Community Farm Celebrates Solar Energy Conversion
Courtesy photo, taken by Tim Rice.
Medway Community Farm has long wanted to participate in a renewable energy program. The opportunity presented itself when Carol Collord, the president of the farm, attended a webinar on agricultural sustainability in early 2021. The United States Department of Agriculture and the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture both had grants available for farms wanting to convert to a renewable source of energy. The first grant under the USDA was the Rural Energy for America Program. That grant was awarded in May of 2021. The MDAR grant, the Climate Smart Agriculture Program grant, was awarded five months later in October. With both grants in hand, the farm was able to move forward with the goal of converting to solar.
Tom Emero, of Summit Energy, was the local representative from Medway who helped to guide the farm through the process. The farm needed 52 panels to supply the electrical energy needed to run the organization. That amount wouldn’t fit on the farmhouse roof, so it was agreed that ground panels were the answer. The farm had an old barn foundation which had fallen into disrepair years earlier. It had been deemed unsafe but, as luck would have it, was the ideal site for solar panels. It was cleared out of old debris and then filled in with the help of DPW.
With the help of a bridge loan from Middlesex Savings Bank, the farm was ready to begin the solar installation in earnest. The panels were installed in May, the permits were obtained, and the farm celebrated the “flipping of the switch” on June 2nd. Todd Sandstrum, the Farm Manager at MCF, noted that this conversion to solar “has started us on a path to sustainability. The carbon footprint in our food system is great, so any change that the farm can make towards carbon neutrality is a positive step forward.” Collord noted that the benefits of converting to solar are numerous, especially to increase the farm’s financial stability as she “wants the farm to be around for generations to come.” Gerry Palano from MDAR acknowledged that the goal of the state is to obtain statewide net-zero emissions by 2050 and the farm, as well as the town of Medway, is 28 years ahead of the goal!