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Growing Solar Tomatoes — By John Reed

Growing Solar Tomatoes
One of the many advantages of living in the country is wide open back roads. Most of the time, the only things to distract me from the lush green vistas are the occasional flock of turkeys or suicidal deer. This time of year, though, the road hazards are all man-made.
There is always the occasional large farm tractor rumbling along at its best speed. Now we also have to dodge peanut wagons, cotton pickers, hay balers, and the occasional Franken-bus full of pine straw.
Our narrow, curvy back roads rarely offer opportunities to pass slow moving vehicles. Still, I find it hard to get too worked up about having my commute delayed. Each one of those loaded wagons represent thousands of dollars in investment and hundreds of hours of hard work. If that phrase about “reaping and sowing“ is in scripture, then our farmers are the most biblical people around.
We don’t manufacturer a lot of man-made items here, especially in comparison with nearby counties with multiple factories; but we do produce a lot of products from the soil. One of our newest “crops“ is solar panels. I’ve commented before that I wished more of that renewable energy was used locally to bring our power bills down. However, there is another way to double down on the profit from that ever-increasing acreage being used for such.
Pilot projects around the country have shown that certain crops grow perfectly fine underneath each solar panel. Certain produce species like tomatoes and peppers have no problem producing profitably even under the partial shade. Melons, squash, and zucchini seem to do well also.
It takes imagination, planning, and cooperation to realize a multi-use land project. And there lies the biggest challenge.

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