Located in Brookfield, Massachusetts, Brookfield Orchards is a 345-acre apple orchard, and the host of two ClearPath solar projects.
Brookfield Orchards has a farm store, pick your own acreage, and host of community events, farmers markets, and local craft fairs. They are truly woven into the fabric of North Brookfield. Having just recently sold a 70 acre plot to a residential home builder, the property owners, Louise Woodard and Diana Nydam, were actively looking to subdivide the property for subplots.
We collaborated to develop a 13-acre project on a 50-acre block of the orchard that had recently been cleared of an earlier generation of apple trees.
The project was permitted in 2011 and 2012 and constructed in 2013, where the family started receiving lease payments thereafter. The surrounding neighbors were pleased there would not be more high density housing in their rural neighborhood.
The motivation of the property owner was the long term income opportunity that solar land leasing provided. The long term income was preferred as a means to help support the salaries of the many families and employees that still work the remaining portion of the orchard.
“ClearPath Energy has helped the future generation to come. We’re going to have guaranteed income for years to protect our family orchard,” said Louise Woodard, 3rd generation owner of Brookfield Orchards.
Solar incentives returned in Massachusetts in 2017, and we contacted the family again to see if they were interested in developing another project with us.
The second Brookfield Orchards project was much larger, and would be placed further out in the back of the property where none of the orchard customers could have a view of the solar project. We worked in conjunction with one of the orchard neighbors that had 150 acres of neighboring farm land. Offering both land owners leases, we utilized 50 acres combined and offered both property owners 45 years of long term lease income.
Ultimately, the project was built as a 9MW fixed tilt project with 45 acres of panels. During planning and construction we worked with the North Brookfield planning board to put in place a solar conservation restriction on the two farms ensuring that a significant portion of the remaining land stays solar free.
Our Brookfield Orchards project employs one of the largest battery storage systems to date in Massachusetts, and provides power to the grid in the evening exactly when it's needed most.
We shot a video back in October 2021 with our Brookfield Orchards friends.
If you have a property you think would be a good fit for a solar farm, head to our land owner’s page to submit your property for assessment.