Innovation That Matters

Farmers barter produce for solar panel funding

Food & Drink

Last year, we wrote about a Dutch collective of wind turbine owners, mostly farmers, who operate turbines as an extra source of income and sell the energy they produce directly to consumers. One of our spotters pointed out another venture that has consumers directly involved with farmers and sustainable energy. This time, however, the farmers aren’t producing energy to sell to others, but to power their own business. BoerENbuur (FarmerANDneighbour) is a network promoting alliances between farmers and their non-farming neighbours. One of the projects they’ve recently launched is buurZOEKTbuurvoorZONNEPANELEN—farmer seeks neighbour for solar panels. Since not every farmer can afford to buy a wind turbine, and some believe they would disfigure their part of the Dutch landscape, the project is asking individuals to buy shares of EUR 250 that will help participating farmers install solar panels on their roofs. In return, per share they’ll receive EUR 50 worth of produce from the farm, every year for six years. Plus the feelgood dividends of helping a farm become climate-neutral. Fifteen farmers have signed up for the first run, and the solar panels will be installed by the end of 2009. While it obviously isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme for anyone involved, grassroots initiatives like this make for a welcome antidote to corporate greenwashing. One to copy to other agricultural regions? (Related: Neighbourhood approach to renewable energy.) Spotted by: Bart van der Aa



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