Thursday, July 18, 2024

Fourth Generation Family Farm Goes Solar with Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Grant


Nick Wishnatzki, Public Relations Manager for Wish Farms

Nick Wishnatzki, Public Relations Manager for Wish Farms

Berry Crop at Wish Farms

Berry Crop at Wish Farms

Solar at Wish Farms

Solar at Wish Farms

Fourth Generation Family Farm Goes Solar with Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Grant

For rural companies contemplating photo voltaic, Nick affords clear recommendation, “It’s price a glance. Solar vitality is a dependable know-how that may assist save prices and enhance farm effectivity. “

– Nick Wishnatzki, Public Relations Manager for Wish Farms

WASHINGTON, DC, UNITED STATES, June 27, 2024 / — Wish Farms, a fourth-generation household enterprise, has been a staple within the produce trade for greater than 100 years. Founded by Harris Wishnatzki, a Jewish-Ukrainian immigrant who escaped to Eastern Europe in 1904, the corporate grew from a humble push cart operation in New York to a number one berry provider with operations in Florida , California, and Mexico.

Nick Wishnatzki, Public Relations Manager for Wish Farms, and Harris’ great-grandson, shared insights into the corporate’s journey and up to date ventures, significantly their vital funding in photo voltaic vitality.

Nick’s great-grandfather moved to central Florida, in Lakeland, in 1929, establishing roots in what’s now often known as the winter strawberry capital of the world.

“Plant City turned a thriving agricultural heart due to the railroad,” Nick defined. “The Henry Plant railroad system allowed farmers to move their produce north, making Plant City a bustling heart for strawberry farming.”

Having lived and grown up within the enterprise his total life, Nick feels nice pleasure and duty in persevering with his household’s legacy.

“Being part of a enterprise that has been in my household for 4 generations is extremely satisfying,” he mentioned.

Despite its wealthy historical past and powerful market, berry farming has its personal challenges. One of essentially the most urgent points is the provision of labor.

“Harvesting berries could be very onerous work, requiring expert staff to choose the produce each three days,” says Nick.

Nick stays optimistic about technological advances that can alleviate a few of these challenges.

“Gene enhancing and disease-resistant crops are promising developments that can assist scale back the necessity for chemical compounds, improvise crops, make farming extra sustainable in addition to different efficiencies, ” he mentioned.

In 2022, Wish Farms put in a rooftop photo voltaic system to energy their operations, a choice pushed by environmental and financial concerns. The system, put in by SEM Power, consists of two,100 panels and covers 80,000 sq. ft in whole, producing a formidable 1.6 million kWh per 12 months.

“We have quite a lot of actual property above our cooling services, and it is smart to make use of that area,” explains Nick. “Cooling is a giant a part of our operation, and it is very vitality intensive. By going photo voltaic, we’re doing the best factor for the setting and saving cash in the long term.”

The resolution to go photo voltaic was not taken flippantly. Nick emphasised the significance of making certain a good payback interval and the sturdiness of photo voltaic panels.

“We need to be certain that it is a good funding,” he mentioned. “So far, it is confirmed to be a clever selection.”

The set up course of came about in two phases, with the preliminary 20,000 sq. ft of panels put in in February 2020 and a further 60,000 sq. ft added later. Although provide chain points delayed the activation of the system, it’s now absolutely operational and considerably contributing to operational vitality wants.

“We imagine it would cowl about 50-70% of our vitality wants,” estimates Nick.

The Wish Farms photo voltaic mission is partially funded via a Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grant, a federal initiative geared toward selling renewable vitality in rural areas.

“The grant undoubtedly performed an element in our resolution to go photo voltaic,” Nick mentioned. “We made connections with the USDA and discovered concerning the incentives which can be obtainable. They helped us perceive the method. The fee would have been viable even with out the grant, however it actually made the choice simpler.”

For different rural companies contemplating photo voltaic vitality, Nick affords clear recommendation, “It’s price trying into. Solar vitality is a dependable know-how that may assist save prices and enhance farm effectivity. If the numbers make sense, it could possibly be a worthwhile funding. “

While Wish Farms continues to vary and adapt, Nick stays dedicated to honoring his great-grandfather’s legacy whereas embracing trendy developments.

“We’ve come a great distance since push carts,” he mirrored. “And we’re excited to see the place the following 100 years take us.”

As a part of its mission to assist individuals go photo voltaic, the nationwide nonprofit Solar United Neighbors (SUN) has developed a 10-week program to assist stroll farmers and small enterprise homeowners. rural enterprise via the REAP utility course of.

“Whether you are a small enterprise proprietor otherwise you personal a farm, the Rural Energy for America Program might be your key to unlocking the facility of photo voltaic vitality. Going photo voltaic is not nearly saving cash cash; it is about advancing your operational targets, selling vitality independence, and boosting the native economic system,” mentioned Anya Schoolman, Solar United Neighbors Executive Director.

REAP affords grants and loans to make photo voltaic extra reasonably priced. These grants are for as much as 50% of system prices and loans can be found via a aggressive utility course of. The Inflation Reduction Act quadrupled funding for this system. The subsequent deadline to use for REAP funding in 2024 is September 30.

Those all for serving to can be a part of the Ready, Set, Solar, REAP on-line: Ready, Set, Solar!

As a part of this system members will obtain:
-One week of emails introducing the REAP grant course of and a REAP information, adopted by one electronic mail every week with duties to do for the remaining 9 weeks
-Unbiased, installer-neutral recommendation and experience
-Support from a community of friends, together with SUN employees and former REAP grantees

Additional REAP sources supplied by SUN embrace:
-An on-demand webinar ‘REAP Solar Grants & Your Rural Business’, in English -5M8 /ch1wk/239372662?h=OkiPWAXh3rvIH35xcivS59qvdmXKN3UAKmM0EL7uUA8 and Spanish 59qvdmXKN3UAKmM0EL7uUA8
-REAP information in English & Spanish
-Solar Help Desk with hands-on assist
-Map the USDA web site to see if a rural enterprise is in an eligible space (NOTE: eligible farms apply no matter location) /eligibility/ pageAction=rbs
-USDA REAP FAQ (backside of web page)

Janelle Darst
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