Solar panel placed on a garden for automatic irrigation control

Red Heart Ranch in Finley, CA is owned and operated by husband and wife duo, John Moorhead and Rose Davidson. On 22 acres they grow a variety of fruits and vegetables as well as raise chickens, ducks and rabbits. In 2013, Red Heart Ranch received a $5,000 grant to install solar-powered irrigation and build a hoop house.

“Our goal is to create an integrated, self-sustaining farm that provides fresh, organic, non-GMO fruits, vegetables, nuts, as well as eggs and chicken directly to local consumers and businesses.  We hope to employ solar power for our irrigation and electric power needs and reduce our need for petroleum or grid power at every opportunity.”

Rose’s parents, Orden and Janette Davidson owned the property since the 1950s and the land has been in agricultural use for nearly a century, with the crops and use changing to respond to market demands. Installing a solar water pumping system reduces their dependence on the grid and allows them to install a much more efficient watering system for their annual crops. This project has a lasting positive impact on crop production, the ecological integrity of the area surrounding the farm and the health of Clear Lake.

May 2013 update: Well, thanks to a grant from The FruitGuys Community Fund, we are going to be able to make huge improvements in our irrigation system. We are going “off-grid” and will be using 100% solar power to pump, store and irrigate everything we plant. We have a lot to do, what with putting in a pad for the water tank and getting everything plumbed, but it’s very exciting. We purchased the bulk of the system from Advance Power in Calpella – they know their stuff and their prices are cheaper than Amazon (or anyone else, near as I could tell).
December 2013:  The demand for water pumping coincides with the demand for air conditioning.  Should there be brownouts this summer, and I suspect there will be, we will be able to irrigate independently with zero demand on the utility grid. The settling action of having a storage tank really helps with sediment, so we have cleaner water and much, much less trouble with clogged and fouled drip system components. We also have greater water pressure, so our ability to expand our drip system is enhanced.  Thanks to the Community Fund, our ability to conserve and carefully distribute water is much improved.

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