Spring Celebration with family activities, energy demos at Beech Hill Farm

RELEASE CALENDAR ITEM AND DIRECTIONS BELOW COLLEGE OF THE ATLANTIC OFFERS MAY 1 FARM ENERGY DEMONSTRATION Maypole, solar energy explanation featured at Beech Hill Farm CONTACT: Donna Gold, Public Relations: 207-801-5623, 207-266-4470, dgold@coa.edu

BAR HARBOR, ME-To welcome both spring and a set of new solar panels at Beech Hill Farm, College of the Atlantic faculty, staff, and students are preparing a Spring Celebration at the farm. Families and those interested in alternative energy are welcome to come to the farm between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 1. Beech Hill Farm is located in the town of Mt. Desert, ME.

The Beech Hill Farm Spring Celebration will include a maypole dance with music by Ruth Grierson and members of the Big Moose Band, face painting, storytelling and other children’s activities, such as visits with farm animals. There will also be a tour and informal talk about the alternative energy demonstration work going on at Beech Hill. Guests are encouraged to bring a picnic to enjoy at the farm.

The current energy work is the result of a $48,000 grant COA received from Efficiency Maine Trust to establish a Renewable Energy Demonstration Project at Beech Hill Farm. The project explores the viability for traditional Maine farms of various alternative energy approaches. In addition to showing what might work for traditional farms, the project examines reasonable incremental energy improvements that might be affordable to farms, businesses, or homeowners.

With the help of volunteer Robert Parker, a civilian worker for the United States Coast Guard who helped install the solar panels at the Coast Guard Station in Southwest Harbor, the college mounted solar panels on the roof of the farmhouse last November. It also installed four utility meters, and hired alumnus Curry Caputo ’95 of Sustainable Structures to conduct an energy audit for the farm. Students participated in all aspects of the project.

Thanks to the meters, the college discovered that the irrigation pump was the highest user of electricity. It is now installing a solar panel at the pump, since most irrigation happens when the sun is shining. With a solar panel on the pump, the energy will go directly to power the irrigation system, allowing for the most efficient use of the solar-generated electricity.

Other renewable energy projects are in various stages at the farm. A wood pellet boiler will be going into the farm’s greenhouse, and in 2009, the college installed a wind turbine at the farm. Meanwhile, students are examining the farm’s budget to determine the cost effectiveness of additional energy improvements, such as geothermal heat that could use shafts from farm wells.

Anna Demeo, project director and COA lecturer in physics, is pleased with the learning students have achieved by helping to mount the panels and run the numbers on the various energy possibilities and needs. She is also delighted with the performance of the farm’s solar panels. Installed late last November, the small panels have generated a megawatt of energy in four of the darkest months. This much electricity would power an average Maine home for 2.5 months.

For more information about Beech Hill Farm’s Spring Celebration contact the farm at 244-5204, BeechHillFarm@coa.edu.

CALENDAR ITEM: CELEBRATION: Sunday, May 1 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Beech Hill Farm Celebration: Celebrate spring, and new solar panels at the farm with Maypole dance, live music, and children’s activities. Beech Hill Farm, Mt. Desert. 244-5204, BeechHillFarm@coa.edu.

DIRECTIONS: To get to Beech Hill Farm, Follow route 102 into Somesville, heading towards Southwest Harbor. Turn right onto Pretty Marsh Rd, at the blinking yellow light, next to the fire station. Proceed to Beech Hill Road (less than .25 mile on your left). In approximately 1.5 miles greenhouses and fencing will alert you to the farm. A sign is posted in front of the farm stand.

Donna Gold Director of Public Relations, Editor, COA Magazine College of the Atlantic 105 Eden Street Bar Harbor, Maine 04609 207-801-5623, office 207-266-4470, cell dgold@coa.edu www.coa.edu

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