North Carolina’s very own Sun-Raised Farms is at the forefront of the South’s sustainability movement with their mission to provide developers, owners, and operators of solar farms with a grounds maintenance solution that uses livestock – specifically, sheep sourced from local farms. As the importance of sustainability becomes more evident each and every day, technology looks to keep pace – new companies are revolutionizing ways to better the environment and promote healthy living in the most sound manner possible.
Sun-Raised Farms prides itself on working in a way that not only aids the community, but the environment as well. By uniting livestock and solar panels, Sun-Raised Farms came up with a solution that can do several things: They can provide a quality grounds maintenance solution for solar companies, develop opportunities for North Carolina farm families to grow their farms, and are able to reduce the need to import lamb from Australia and New Zealand by promoting pasture-raised lamb produced by North Carolinians for North Carolinians.
So, why sheep and solar panels? Using livestock makes it easy to maintain vegetation on the solar farms, which eliminates the demand for mowing and herbicide applications, thus minimizing emissions of harmful chemicals in the air and in our food. It is also low-impact, sustainable, and integrates the local community into the project, while solar farms provide pastureland for grazing, shelters livestock, and provides shade for the animals.
Sheep are used in particular because, according to the minds behind Sun-Raised, they “thrive entirely on a forage based diet” and their “small size prevents them from damaging panels and other equipment.” Plus, the team has found farmers are a lot more open to using the panels when they understand the usefulness through the livestock first – something familiar to ease into the new technology.
There are currently seventeen local families within the Sun-Raised Farm network who contribute livestock to the company. Sun-Raised also offers training sessions, access to insurance, a network of other farmers, and most importantly, a market for local farmers to sell their humanely-raised, hormone-free livestock.
As for their future plans, Sun-Raised hopes to provide a steady supply of NC products for the high-end restaurant and retail market in the state and region and [yield] a source of revenue for North Carolina farm families. You can already purchase Sun-Raised Farm’s pasture-raised meat at Whole Foods, and will soon be able to find their product at local farm-to-table restaurants in Charlotte, including Heirloom, The Asbury, Roosters, Blue, Aix En Provence, 5Church, and Aria Tuscan Grill.