Giving Tree Farms
Anderson Valley, CA
Each year we decide on important projects for the farm, sometimes structural, sometimes focused on cultivation. This year, we’ve decided to tackle a big one: to get our farm entirely powered by solar. Sustainability is a passion for us, and we work to incorporate it into everything we do. But energy efficiency goes beyond benefiting the environment. With ever-changing regulations and climate restrictions, energy efficiency becomes a matter of benefiting the business as much as it does our Earth.
We are currently enrolled in Sonoma Clean Power, a program that provides all our grid power from renewable energy sources. But this reliance on PG&E has presented some challenges, like needing power during the fire season’s rolling blackouts. Fire season starts in the middle of our growing season and lasts through harvest, including our drying and curing procedures. We need power at all times if we don’t want to lose our crop to mold, a poor cure or, in regard to our fresh-frozen products, thawing out.
Although we have a climate-controlled greenhouse facility for vegging plants, our flowering cycles are done in cold-frame greenhouses. This means we have two harvests a year, making each of those critical for our farm’s success. Losing a crop is something we don’t ever want to endure if we can prevent it. And relying solely on ourselves for power takes some of the uncontrollable out of the equation.
We start by looking at our 10,000-square-foot light-deprivation farm’s current energy consumption to determine the overall load our solar power system will need to support. This includes our lights, pumps, appliances, heaters, computers, dehumidifiers and whatever else we use throughout the year to cultivate our craft cannabis. This is a great time for us to choose efficient alternatives, like LED bulbs, which use 75% less energy than incandescent lighting, and energy-efficient pumps for our irrigation.
We then face the decision of how construction will be done. Do we hire someone local who is excellent at the job but a bit slower due to availability? Or do we use a small, regional company with laser-focused solar expertise to knock out the project and keep us on schedule, even if they lack that personal touch?
We’re excited to take this journey toward off-grid energy and increased sustainability. We hope our experiences along the way will inspire other farmers to do the same as we share our successes and challenges with those who wish to follow along on our blog and in the pages of Marijuana Venture’s Living the Dream section.
The future of farming relies on incorporating new technologies and energy efficiency is only the beginning.