Development of solar project good for future

To the Editor:

I am writing in support of the proposed solar project in Waterloo around the area of Gem Lake. My family’s farm, Gem Lake Farms, has signed on to be part of the NextEra solar project.

When it came to be our turn to run our ninth generation farm, we were tasked to make good business decisions to carry it into the future. By entering into a lease agreement with NextEra, I believe we are doing just that.

Solar, for us, is an opportunity to rethink what a 21st century farm can be and to retool for it. However much farmers represent tradition, they have always been innovators. From early on, our family farm embraced technology that revolutionized agriculture. Underground drainage tiles were invented just up the road from the farm. More then 100 years ago, my grandfather, James Wooden Clise, introduced one of the first threshing machines — an early combine — to the area, threshing for local farms including Rose Hill Mansion.

Solar energy, an innovation itself, can help protect farm land. It suspends tractor driven soil compaction, it’s quiet, there’s no run-off or pulsating bright lights. When the solar panels are eventually removed, the land will pretty much be the way it was before panels. The pilings holding the panels in place will be pulled out as neatly as they will be driven in — no cement holding them in place. And there will be no gravel or stone under the panels, just grass. All paneled parcels will be set back 200 feet from the road, 2/3 of a football field, and can still be planted.

The crowning land features of the farm will remain intact — its old woods and hunting grounds, its swamp/wetland, Little Gem, that once produced cranberries, and the old orchard surrounding Gem Lake.

The next generation, our 10th on the farm, is already here. For my grandchildren and their contemporaries, I want a place of tranquility, history, abundant natural resources and an opportunity to grow in ways that effective agricultural science and sound business practices will lead them, as well as a chance to reflect on the bounty the land has provided over the centuries and will continue to provide for generations to come.

R.L. OESE-SIEGEL

Gem Lake Farms

Family Farming Since 1797

Geneva/Waterloo

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