Can you tell us a little bit about Canosia Grove?
Mehgan Blair: Sure, we're a northwoods permaculture farm located in Duluth, MN. We're located on an old dairy farm that had a heritage apple orchard on it. We moved to the farm in 2013, and have been restoring and expanding that orchard, which we view as the backbone of our farm operation. We invested in building an on-farm cidery, and were granted our license in 2017.
We also maintain and expand our orchard with grazers—we have a small flock of Icelandic sheep. These are rugged animals that help us convert rough pasture to orchard. We have a Sustainable Agriculture Demonstration Grant-funded project to quantify the work that the sheep do, and how they contribute to soil health at our farm. Check out page 12 of the 2019 MDA Greenbook for this information!
Our cider-making is focused on hyper-local apple sourcing to create small batches of traditional dry sparkling ciders. We sell bottles wholesale to several Duluth bars and restaurants, and we sell cider from the farm as well.
What got you interested in solar energy?
Mehgan Blair: We have a great location up on our barn roof—the broad side faces south, and we've always seen that location as being a perfect solar production area. We realized that we were going to need a new barn roof in coming years. Since we're focused on stewardship at the farm, we thought a solar investment fit right into our farm enterprise portfolio.