TRENDS Podcast: How Can Solar Energy Improve Agriculture In A Changing Climate?

Today we will take a tour of Jack’s Solar Garden and learn more about how community solar can increase access to clean energy technologies.

Byron Kominek is the owner of Jack’s Solar Garden.

He describes the layout of the farm and the history of what has become what he calls “the best agrivoltaics project in the country.” Agrivoltaics is the union of agriculture and solar.

Kominek says that the local regulations of the City of Boulder and Boulder County are supporting their efforts, specifically for the Cannabis to grow houses and enormous homes that subscribe to a local community solar garden.

Meg Caley, Executive Director of Sprout City Farms, says the biggest barrier for young farmers is land access while Liza McConnell, Jack’s Solar Research Farm Manager, describes how vegetables growing under the shade provided by the solar panels thrive.

Crops researcher Amy Marble, from the University of Arizona, shares how crucial it is to learn from this research project in order to guide and support upcoming farmers as she describes the bitterness and sweetness of the lettuce.

During the visit, Alison Jackson discusses the importance of educational spaces offered by the Colorado Agrivoltaic Learning Center, which aims to teach students about alternative energy. Not only students when they visit, but solar companies from around the world and policymakers are learning from the unique experience, says Kominek.

Megan Schipanski, professor at Colorado State University, walks out of the farm, reflecting on the unique setting of Jack’s Solar Garden, which integrates food, alternative energy, water, and conservation.

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The TRENDS podcast started as a collaboration between the Community Foundation of Boulder County and KGNU. It dives deep into the community’s most pressing issues and explores the changes happening throughout Boulder County through the experiences of community members, especially those often rendered invisible by commercial media, to shed light on community challenges, solutions, and pathways forward for the county and the country.

We made the TRENDS Podcast series possible with support from the KGNU Listener-Members