Limoneira Company’s 5.5 acre, 6,400 solar panel, 1 megawatt capacity“solar orchard”–complete with observation deck–was designed to meet therigorous standards necessary to receive Leadership in Energy andEnvironmental Design (LEED) Gold-level certification. LEED is thecountry’s foremost standard in green building. This solar farm is thefirst private sector LEED Gold certification awarded in Ventura County.
The news appeared in the California Farmer,as Limoneira (founded in 1893) is one of the state’s foremostagribusiness companies, growing citrus, avocados, pistachios andcherries. Striving for LEED certification is in keeping withLimoneira’s corporate commitment to sustainability. From their website:
Sustainability with respect to farming operationsinclude reduced water usage, erosion mitigation efforts, reducedherbicide and pesticide usage. The Company strives to operate atnon-peak energy to reduce energy consumption where possible. TheCompany’s partnership with Agromin, a leader in green waste recycling,helps to transform green waste into safe and cost-effective compost andmulches for use in agricultural production and community projects.
To date, Limoneira’s solar panel installation has saved theequivalent of more than 1,350 metric tons of greenhouse gases. Oneissue with ground-mounted solar panels in lush terrain can bevegetation growth–that is, grass. If it grows too tall, the grass canshade portions of the solar panels and drastically reduce the system’soverall productivity. (When solar installers harp on and on aboutshading issues, it’s not just because they love to hear themselvestalk. It’s a serious concern.)
As a fun, innovative way to literally cut down on this problem,Limoneira has partnered with Future Farmers of America to introduce andcare for seven miniature English sheep. The sheep can roam in, around,and presumably under the solar panel arrays to nibble on thevegetation–and keep the solar energy flowing.