Four Winds Farm. 158 Marabac Rd. Gardiner, NY 12525
September 12, 2011
This field day event demonstrated what can be accomplished
through thoughtful, long term planning with the goal of energy efficiency
independent of fossil fuels.
The centerpiece of Jay and Polly Armour’s 24 acre
diversified NOFA-NY Certified LLC organic farm is an earth cooled, straw-bale
barn which serves a variety of functions. The
Armours explained that when they
were planning the barn, which started more than 10 years ago, they formulated plans with the goal that it
would be the hub of the farm’s energy source, processing facility and cold
storage fueled by alternative energy.
The focus of today’s event was the 14 kw grid connected PV (photovoltaic)
electric system which is mounted on the south side of the barn roof which
generates enough electricity to take care of almost 100% of the farm’s energy
needs including their residence. A passive solar greenhouse wraps around the southside
foundation directly below the roof where the Amour’s crew start heirloom
seedlings for planting and for sale in early spring. It is a few feet below
ground which insures a frost free floor.
The east side of the partial straw-bale construction barn is
buried underground which creates a natural root cellar storage space. This room
is cooled and ventilated by a solar powered cool air system. Here the farmers
are able to store freshly harvested vegetables for immediate market sales and
CSA distribution, as well as processing root vegetables for long term storage.
The “root cellar” can be directly accessed by their vegetable oil powered diesel
van that is used to transport the crops to local markets.
Carlos Newcomb, project manager for Hudson Valley Clean
Energy, www.hvce.com (the company which
installed the PV system) explained the combination NYSERDA grant/financing
arrangement www.nyserda.com that the
Armours found most suitable to perfect their plans for the multi-purpose
One last addition to the “barn” will include a commercial
kitchen to process added-value items to their farm’s products.
Four Winds Farm uses
a permanent bed system which requires very little tractor time and minimal soil
disturbance. The farmers use Permaculture methods of layering mulch materials
with on farm produced compost, reducing maintenance, disease while increasing
The Farm Energy Field Days are sponsored by the
Cornell Small Farms Energy Work team and funded by Northeast SARE (Sustainable
Ag Research and Education). To learn more about NE SARE visit www.nesare.org