In Massachusetts alone, there are over 14,000 acres of cranberry bogs owned by around 400 farmers. However, Massachusetts has dropped down to the third largest cranberry producer, behind Wisconsin and Quebec. The state that was once the cranberry capital of the world is now experiencing setbacks against a saturated worldwide marketplace and increased expansion regulations.
To keep up nowadays, some farmers in Massachusetts are attempting a new method of cranberry production. This new method is solar panels.
How can solar panels help grow cranberries?
A solarized cranberry bog doesn’t flood like others. Instead, cranberry plants are grown on shaded vines close to the ground. Before the berries become filled with air that would normally push them to the top of the water, farmers transfer the plants to a flooded bog for harvest. These flooded bogs are often large operations that harvest cranberry plants from several solar farmers.
While it might not be what you envisioned for cranberry farming, it could likely keep you in the cranberry business for years to come.
Are there solar regulations cranberry farmers need to worry about?
Solarized cranberry bogs likely won’t experience the same environmental backlash as cranberry bogs in the past, because they do not impose on protected wetlands; however, residential laws might be the new issue preventing you from farming cranberries.
Last month, the town of Dartmouth, Massachusetts, proposed an amendment to a bylaw prohibiting “large-scale solar projects in residential areas.” This proposal came after 30 acres of bogs in the area decided to go solar. Both city officials and cranberry farmers are working to ensure the proposal fits within the Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target Program (SMART), which seeks to encourage solar power within the state.
Over the years, environmental protection agencies and conservation groups have worried that cranberry bog expansion will create mass destruction of the country’s natural ecosystems. Solar panels could be an answer to this problem. The question is now, do you fit within solar regulations?