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Green Energy

Leading the Way in Renewable Energy

At Coveyou Scenic Farms, we lead by example and prove every day how agriculture can be both environmentally and economically viable in Northern Michigan. 

Coveyou Scenic Farm is a Michigan leader in energy conservation technology and renewable energy. We are honored to have been recognized by the Michigan Governor's Energy Excellence Awards twice. We strive to demonstrate how renewable energy makes our farm economically viable, environmentally responsible and educationally important in our community. 

 

We all have tremendous potential to do more when it comes to sustainability at home and in business. At Coveyou we hope that we inspire people to think about how they can incorporate these elements into their own day to day lives.


Our everyday sustainability practices:

- 20kW Solar PV array (first installed in 2012)

- A 5,000 sq. ft. geothermally heated greenhouse

- Geothermally Chilled walk-in produce coolers

- Electric variable frequency drive drip irrigation system

- Extensive use of locally recycled plastic produce and flower pots

- Compostable fiber pots and baskets

- Organic, pollinator-friendly growing practices

- Food waste reduction measures


Solar Array

We are strong supporters of Solar PV electricity generation. We installed our solar array in the winter of 2012, and its energy output has exceeded our expectations. As a 20kW system, it produces a significant portion of the electricity on the farm. Our system is net metered, allowing any excess energy we produce to literally spin our meter backwards! The extra energy is pushed back into the grid, allowing our neighbors to use it. 

 

You can see our beautiful solar array just driving by our farm on US-131. We love taking questions and talking about solar to anyone who will listen, so please get in touch if you want to learn more! 

Geothermal Greenhouse Heating

Geothermal heating and cooling are used extensively throughout our farm operation. Our five thousand square-foot seed propagation greenhouse is heated geothermally. The heated concrete floor helps us germinate hundreds of thousands of plants each year. The best part? Geothermal heating is 100% renewable and extremely efficient, transferring five times more heat energy than it uses to run! 

Geothermal for Cooling, too!

Our geothermal system also powers the refrigeration for our large walk-in produce storage coolers located underneath the Barn Market, as well as our display coolers you can see on the market floor. We move thousands of pounds of produce through our walk-ins each season, removing field heat and safely storing it until we need to use it again in the spring!

 

We also use a chilled tank of potable water to instantly cool brocooli, kale, salad greens, and other crops coming in from harvest. This "flash chilling" process enhances the quality and freshness, literally locking in the farm-fresh taste just minutes after being harvested. And yes, that too, is chilled geothermally!

How Our Geothermal Systems Work

What is geothermal?  Geothermal energy is heat within the earth. The word "geothermal" comes from the Greek words "geo" (earth) and "therme" (heat). Geothermal energy is considered renewable because heat is continuously produced inside the earth. People use geothermal heat for bathing, to heat buildings, and to generate electricity.

 

But really, how does this work?  In short, we transfer heat out of our coolers all summer, heating a large deep chunk of soil under our parking lot, and then transfer that heat back out of the ground to heat our greenhouses in the winter and spring!

 

At six feet below the surface, the ground stays at a constant temperature of ~50 degrees year-round. We utilize this natural underground heat source during Michigan's colder months and balance the system in the hot months. Directly below our parking lot sit five trenches, each 200 feet long, containing a series of plastic tubes that circulate fluid. Fluid enters the tubes at a temperature of ~50 degrees, and then 5 degrees of heat energy is removed by a high-efficiency heat pump. That heat is stored in a tank. The pump continuously transfers heat from the fluid into the tank until the tank reaches our desired set point of about 90 degrees. Our greenhouse concrete floor has four in-floor heat zones that contain another series of plastic tubes. When a floor zone becomes too cold, the ~90 degree fluid is circulated through the corresponding tubes in the floor until the floor's temperature is raised to the appropriate level we need. In the hot months of summer, we use that same closed-loop geothermal tubing below the parking lot,to transfer 5 degrees of heat out of the coolers. 

 

Yeah, it's kind of crazy...crazy efficient and cost-effective! We use geothermal not only because it's an abundant "green" energy source, but because it's a smart business decision: it significantly lowers our energy costs! Our entire farm's produce cooling system costs just a fraction of a conventional system (about $100 per month in summer, versus THOUSANDS with conventional methods). That goes a long way toward keeping our budget in the black. 

 

Learn more about the geothermal system we use and how it benefits our farm with this video from GeoComfort. 

 

 

Saving Water with Electric Drip Irrigation

We converted our gas irrigation pump system to an electric variable frequency speed drive irrigation pump that adjusts its horsepower based on the demands coming from the fields. This technology saves significant energy and represents one of the most efficient ways to supply water with minimal loss. 

 

Our drip irrigation system consists of over 26 miles of recyclable tubing that "drips" water in the root zones of plants. It supplies just the right amount without any risk of underwatering or erosion. By opting for drip irrigation instead of traditional overhead watering, we minimize leaf mildew and other diseases associated with wet leaves. This is extremely important when growing organically, as it's an easy way to prevent disease and pests.

Local Materials Recycling

Our 26 miles of plastic drip tubing is either reusable or recyclable year to year. We grow all of our plants in recycled plastic seed propagation trays and plastic pots of a variety of sizes. The vast majority of our plastic pots are sourced from East Jordan Plastics, a local company located just minutes from our farm.

 

In addition, the compostable fiber pots we grow our hanging baskets and other flowers in are what your recycled cardboard is converted into! And, did you know that beautiful deck furniture you're enjoying is made from 95% recycled milk cartons?



Want to learn more?


David has provided countless presentations, tours, and talks about renewable energy and other sustainability highlights of the farm. He is also a board member of the utility co-op, Great Lakes Energy. If you'd like to hear more about what we do or how we can help you do it, please get in touch!