April 23, 2014
Photo: Sun-Raised Farms, screen shot
The solar industry is growing rapidly in North Carolina, thanks in large part to the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards law, which requires utilities to source 3% of their energy from renewable sources this year, increasing to 12.5% by 2021. Some people have raised concerns that renewable energy generation could crowd out agricultural uses of land. But NC-based Sun-Raised Farms has a potential solution:
Let hungry sheep mow the fields.
Chad and Jodi Ray started using sheep to maintain one of O2 Energies’ solar fields in Bunn, NC in 2011. They managed to lower O2 Energies’ maintenance cost, and supply the market with high quality, sustainably raised lamb. The arrangement made so much sense that Sun-Raised Farm now connects solar field owners with local sheep farmers across the state.
Letting grazing sheep mow the lawn lowers maintenance costs, benefits the local economy, and improves the fertility of the soil under the panels.
Sun-Raised Farms shares best practices with all of their sheep farmers, and provide training sessions and access to insurance and financing. They also provide a market for the lamb meat, thanks to a contract Sun-Raised secured with Whole Foods.