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Farming the Sun


Farming the Sun
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We meet a farmer who is securing the future of his family's business by branching into solar energy. The fair has teamed up with a local renewable energy company that is helping them create a new income stream while helping the environment. Reporter | Camera | Drone: Aaron Fedor, Producer: Kathleen McLaughlin, Editor: Kyle Dubiel

((PKG)) FARMING THE SUN
((TRT: 06:51))
((Topic Banner:
Farming the Sun))
((Reporter/Camera/Drone:
Aaron Fedor))
((Producer:
Kathleen McLaughlin))
((Editor:
Kyle Dubiel))
((Map:
Livermore Falls, Maine))
((Main character: 1 male))
((Sub characters: 1 female; 2 males))

((/MUSIC/NATS))
((Harold Souther
Farmer))

Harold Douglas Souther, Livermore Falls, Maine. The house where I’m presently sitting is where I was born June 29, 1924. I moved once from upstairs to downstairs.
I'm good for tractor driving five hours. It varies. I usually, after a busy day on the tractor, I find gardening kind of
restful.
((NATS/MUSIC))
((Harold Souther
Farmer))

It was always a diversified farm. Poultry, dairy, crops and woodlot. Presently, it produces hay. The barn is rented for animals and I grow in our garden, an acre [.4ha] of garden crops and sell hay.
((NATS/MUSIC))
((Evelyn Souther
Farmer, Daughter))

I think it's very hard for small farms to stay afloat in this
period of time between the cost of fuel to run the tractors, the cost of grain belts. It’s just, it always seems to be an uphill climb for small farms. For that reason, I think there has to be a given outside income that you can count on and know that
you've got some financial stability.
You can plant a crop of corn and hope for the best but depending on weather or whatever, it's not a given that
you're going to get income back from that. So, for us to put in20 acres [8ha] to solar seemed like a very wise decision to keep our
small farm afloat.
((NATS/MUSIC))
((Fortunat Mueller
Co-founder, ReVision Energy))

ReVision builds solar projects of all scales from, you know, rooftop residential projects to community scale projects like
the one you see here. And we work with local farmers and local landowners to find places to build those projects. One of the things we're trying
to do is to make sure that solar projects that are being built
in Maine are beneficial for the communities that they land in.
And so, we work with landowners who are looking for a
productive use of a part of their land.
((Evelyn Souther
Farmer, Daughter))

We are thrilled that it's all staying local or within the state of
Maine. There’s five school systems that will benefit from our 20 acres of solar. That's already beginning to show a big impact on our
electrical bills.
((NATS))
((Evelyn Souther
Farmer, Daughter))

Oh, look at the babies. Hi, baby. That’s so cute. Mama's being busy.
((Harold Souther
Farmer))

Twelve little babies.
((Evelyn Souther
Farmer, Daughter))

Yeah.
((Harold Souther
Farmer))

I think she had 16. I think she lost four.
((Evelyn Souther
Farmer, Daughter))

This was all hen house when I was a little girl. Many, many chickens.
((NATS))
((Fortunat Mueller

Harold Souther is an awesome, incredible and inspirational individual.
He's been on this property nearly a
hundred years and he is a typical, practical Mainer. He's not, you know, impressed by flashy stuff. He wants to know how it works
and he wants to know if it's a good deal for his family and his community. And that's just the kind of person we want to deal with because we are also a Maine-based company, and we understand that these projects can be beneficial to all the parties involved and
that's how we want to structure them. And so, the Souther family has been just a perfect counterparty to work with because they're well respected in the community and they'vebeen super enthusiastic about the project.
((Peter W. Davidson
CEO, Aligned Climate Capital))
So much of this is based on states and state policy. So,
Maine is a great state. They have become a real leader with their new governor, Janet Mills. She's put a series of programs in place that make it possible for farmers to earn more money from leasing it. They make it possible for the power to be connected into thegrid which is a highly controlled
process by the utilities. So, the states have to approve the
ability for solar power to be connected into the grid. We call itan interconnect. That's a big thing that has to happen. Only happens in certain states. Maine’s been a great leader
in that. And that's why there's really been such an uptick in solar
over the last five to six years in Maine.
((NATS/MUSIC))
((Harold Souther
Farmer))

I got a chair out back and I don’t know if it’s photographic but I enjoy sitting there in the afternoon sun sometimes.
((Reporter))
Okay.
((Harold Southern
Farmer))
Right over there.
((Reporter))
If you want to sit over there, I’ll follow you over there.
((Harold Southern
Farmer)) Yeah, yeah. The other day I wondered why I didn't get more done and I think I sat there for over an hour. As my brother used to say, I'm doing what he did best: sitting. The only thing it costs is my time.
((Harold Souther
Farmer))

I enjoy every day.
I'm blessed to have a loving, caring family; do what I like to do; live in the house that I've always lived in. And so, that's why I say repeatedly, at my age, I'm too blessed to
complain. It feels that I'm contributing something to society. I think I contributed food and milk to society. Now the farm is yielding some power that’s much needed and appreciated.
((Evelyn Souther
Farmer, Daughter))

For the next 25 years, the farm is secured, and that's important to us. That little bit
of 20 acres out of 135 [54.6ha] protects the rest of the farm so that we can continue
to hay or plant vegetables or whatever we decide to do.
((Harold Souther
Farmer))

When the light is right, it looks like a distant lake with the trees growing up right to
the edge of the water. When the light is just right outside the kitchen window, it looks very much like a, like a distant lake.
((NATS/MUSIC))

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