Finnriver Farm & Cidery Journal
Partnering with the Sun
Finnriver relocated our tasting and tap room in 2016 to a historic dairy farm at the central intersection in the rural community of Chimacum. Our goal was to show how rural economic development, land and resource conservation and sustainable agriculture can all converge and thrive.
The old cow feeding trough was converted, using reclaimed barn wood, into a 75 foot long community table and the space covered by an open air pavilion. Alongside the pavilion, we restored an old feeding shed into our cidery tasting and taproom. These and other structures make up the Cider Garden, which looks out over the 50 acres of organic farm and orchard.
This Cider Garden has now become an all-ages gathering space, music venue and local food court, offering a welcoming space for neighbors and visitors to gather and reconnect to the land that sustains us.
In order to continue the mission of educating and inspiring wise land use, we worked with local renewable energy advocates and Power Trip Energy company to apply for the USDA Rural Energy for America program (REAP). With matching funds from REAP, federal tax credits, support from a Barnraiser crowdfunding campaign and loans, Finnriver was able to install an expandable, grid-tied 65-kilowatt system, using 212 solar panels. These panels cover 3,000 square feet of roof space here at the Cider Garden.
Initially, we estimated that it would produce 65,000 kWh of electricity annually which would produce enough electricity to supply more than half of our annual power needs and send green energy back into the grid.
After one year in service, the solar panels have in fact produced around 74,500 kwh – which is enough electricity to cover almost 80% of Finnriver’s portion of electricity use at the Cider Garden property.
To commemorate this feat, a Sol Mandala was crafted by the ceramic artists at Millbrook Clayworks and with metalwork by Abraxas Crow. It celebrates the generous contributions of supporters of Finnriver’s renewable energy campaign. We recently installed an educational display that will teach visitors about the benefits of renewable energy near our North entrance.
We hope that this renewable energy system will provide a venue to educate our community about the benefits of solar energy and give us an exciting opportunity to 'walk our talk' about sustainability and to showcase how the local food economy can integrate land conservation, renewable energy and watershed restoration!