WILLSBORO, N.Y. — Scott Christian plans to buy a double rake hitch, which will cut haying trips in half, saving time and money and reducing soil compaction.
Robert Estes is going to buy a backup battery for cloudy days when his solar-powered water pump doesn’t work, while Taylor DeFayette plans to purchase SolaWrap, a giant bubble wrap-type plastic film to heat her high tunnel so she doesn’t need an electric blower.
These are among the 14 North Country New York farms and four small businesses that have obtained micro grants of $1,000 to $3,000 from the Adirondack Council environmental group for projects aimed at reducing carbon emissions.
“We favored projects that made the farms more efficient while limiting their impact on clean air and climate change,” said John Sheehan, council spokesman. “Farmers are always innovating — finding new ways to solve problems and get hard work done. So we’ve been impressed by the ideas we have been able to support.”
Christian, 46, runs Christian Brothers Farm, in Willsboro, with his 20-year-old son, Jon-Morgan Christian, who is in charge of day-to-day operations.
“We raise hay and sell to horse farms,” Scott Christian said. “We have two delivery trucks and go all over New York and Vermont.”
Estes’ Green Street Family Farm & Sawmill obtained a council grant last year, which it used to buy the solar water pump. At present, water must be hauled about 200 feet to the barn.
In addition to a backup battery, Estes will use some of this year’s grant money to install a pressurized system that moves water directly from the pump, saving time and labor.
DeFayette’s Oregano Flats Farm, in Saranac, specializes in raising greens year round in high tunnels. Each year, before winter, she’s had to install a second large plastic sheet and use an electric blower to create a layer of air, which heats up, between the two sheets.
In addition to reducing electricity usage, the new SolaWrap will save considerable time installing and removing the extra sheet of plastic in autumn and spring.
This is the fourth year of the Council’s grant program, which has invested more than $91,000 for 72 projects to date. Applicants may be located anywhere in the 6-million acre Adirondack Park, a patchwork of public and private lands that make up the largest park in the contiguous U.S.
“Each year, we fund a number of new farms looking to implement climate-smart projects that span the conventional to modern spectrum of the community,” said Jackie Bowen, the climate expert on the council’s conservation team. “Whether it be the ease of access to funds or the desire to be more environmentally friendly, a lot of farmers have chosen to implement climate-smart or low-carbon projects. The hope is that this will plant the seed for people to implement other sustainable projects on their farms.”
In just four years, the program has had a significant positive impact, she said. In addition to reducing carbon emissions, grants help farms financially and contribute to the region’s rural economy.
“For example, in 2017 Rehoboth Homestead, in Peru, New York, was able to leverage our grant in addition to New York State Electric & Gas Corporation incentives and a U.S. Department of Agriculture energy efficiency grant to install an 11.4-kilowatt solar system that now supplies 100% of the farmstead’s electricity needs,” Bowen said.
Also in 2017, the Adirondack Hotel, in Long Lake, received a grant to put in insulation and LED lighting. The business used this to install 400 LED light bulbs, which decreased its NYSEG electric bill by $800 to $1,000 per month.
“For the past two years, we have also sponsored the Food Justice Summit that tackles tough questions about food access, farm workers’ rights and more, all of which are integral to the park’s local, affordable and ethical access to food,” Bowen said.
Following is a brief description of other 2019 grant recipients and their projects.
• Adirondack Hay & Grains (Essex): $1,000 to purchase GPS assisted steering (Trimble guidance) to eliminate overlap turning and to conduct a case study to assess emissions and fuel reductions as a result of GPS technology.
• Craigardan (Keene): $3,000 for the 2019 Food Justice Summit.
• DaCy Meadow Farm (Westport): $1,150 to purchase a WindyNation 300-watt solar energy kit to passively power a new chicken coop that will also function as a brooding facility and greenhouse.
• Essex Farm (Essex): $1,400 to purchase 400 pounds of legume seed cover crop (clover family) to seed 50 acres of farmland for carbon sequestration and soil health.
• Juniper Hill Farm (Westport): $1,500 to host a sustainable home building, hands-on workshop featuring sessions on geothermal installation, heat pumps, radiant heating and straw bale home construction.
• Moonstone Farm (Saranac Lake): $1,500 to purchase a CoolBot Pro with Wi-Fi and a 15,000 BTU air conditioning unit for a new 8-foot by 6-foot CoolBot Cooler.
• North Country Creamery (Keeseville): $1,500 to replace propane heaters with solar energy-sourced electric heat pumps for on-farm cafe and farm store.
• Open Gate Farmstead (Keeseville): $1,500 to build a boundary fence, construct a “living fence” using berry bushes, and purchase fruit and nut seeds to be planted as food sources for livestock and to help address soil erosion.
• Reber Rock Farm (Essex): $1,500 to complete the installation of a frost-free watering unit, including excavation and extension of a water line, and a concrete pad on which the watering unit will sit.
• Sugar House Creamery (Upper Jay): $1,000 to purchase a ripper attachment for the front-end loader of a tractor to aerate winter bedding in cow house.
• Twin Hills Farm (Vermontville): $1,400 to convert a greenhouse heating system to use waste oil, and to set up educational stations for school groups.
• Ausable Brewing Co. (Keeseville): $1,500 to upgrade a solar hot water system before purchasing a 500-gallon water storage tank used for brewing in order to minimize dependence on a backup propane water heater.
• Hub on the Hill (Essex): $1,500 to install solar panels to help power a refrigeration system within a new delivery truck.
• Indian Bay Marina (Willsboro): $1,500 to add spray foam insulation to the underside of restaurant building.
• Northern Feast Catering (Keeseville): $1,500 to purchase and install a new oven (Vulcan Series SX36-6BN oven) to replace current oven that leaks propane.