Nancy Colpitts looks to the sky to power her family’s farm
It’s the end of Nancy Colpitts’ day. As she walks into her house, she’s greeted by the bright smile of her infant grandson. When she picks him up and smiles back, Nancy stops to think about his future and is a little uncertain what awaits him. But on McCrea Farms, the family farm where Nancy grew up and that she runs with her father, husband and sons today, the future of farming is looking sunny.
Energy in a kit
As eighth, seventh, and sixth-generation farmers, Nancy and her family aren’t strangers to hard work and caring for the environment. On their farm in Shannon, New Brunswick, they’ve embraced their responsibility as stewards of the land. For instance, the family practices rotational grazing with their dairy and beef cows, allowing the earth time to recuperate. They also use minimal tillage techniques to reduce soil erosion in crop production, improve soil health and boost carbon capture.
Nancy wants to do more, though. She wants to be sure that when her grandson grows up, McCrea Farms will be even more environmentally self-sufficient. So when a local company reached out with a proposal for their new solar panel kits, Nancy was intrigued.
“We’re always thinking about ways to be efficient, while also being environmentally responsible,” Nancy says. “Solar panels were something we wanted to try.”
The solar panel kits came with all the instructions and pieces for installation. But unlike traditional solar panel installation that usually requires a technician, these kits gave enough information for customers to install the panels themselves.
When Nancy and her family agreed to be the testers, they knew they’d have their work cut out for them.
A panel project
The skills required to run a farm are plentiful, and Nancy’s family have them in heaps. The task of building their own solar panels was a big ask, but the family happily accepted the challenge.
In just six months, they erected 216 panels, which now “power all of our dairy barns, several beef barns, a large workshop, three houses on the farm, one of our guest houses, and a fish hatchery,” Nancy says. “And they’re guaranteed to produce at this level for at least 30 years.”
Beyond helping their own farm, the family also provided valuable feedback on the solar panel kits, helping future customers take on this eco-friendly project.
Growing a better future can take on many shapes and sizes. Nancy and her family at McCrea Farms are a perfect example of an innovative, hands-on approach to farming solar energy. The solar panels were a big commitment, and they took some work to install, but they are an investment in the farm’s future. Now with a new source to harness green power, the future on McCrea Farms is shining bright.
One in eight farms in Canada reported some form of renewable energy production in 2021. Solar energy production, harnessed through solar panels and batteries, is the most common form of renewable energy production on Canadian farms, having doubled over the past five years.