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How the sun ripens fruit and supplies a good deal of the energy needs for Cherry Lawn Fruit Farm

by WayneTimes.com
May 4, 2024

The very same rays of sun that ripen the fruit at Cherry Lawn Fruit Farm in Sodus is now supplying a major portion of the electrical energy the farm needs for its cold storage facility. Running a facility that big is no small feat. The amount of electricity needed to constantly maintain the atmosphere in the storage units is massive.

In order to mitigate the negative environmental impact the facility generated, solar panels located on the roof of the building reduce the carbon footprint and are equivalent to taking about 275 cars off the road. The real bonus is that it cut the yearly electric bill by $10,000-$15,000 per year. 

The controlled atmosphere facility has a capacity of 185,000 bushels of apples in storage, as well as 35,000 bushels of apples in regular cold storage.

Neil Furber and his wife Cora started the farm in 1922 with 134 acres and passed down the business that now has about 200 acres of crops and another 300+ acres of woodland.

Current Owners Todd and Ted Furber, were joined in the farming venture by Todd’s son-in-law, Eric in 2013. 

Today, the fifth generation of the family has begun working the land. Planting cutting, harvesting, working the fields of 20 varieties of apples,  along with, peaches, tart cherries, and hops are now covering the fields.

 The family decided to invest in cold storage to avoid the costs and logistics of trucking their produce to different facilities. The Furbers are also able to ensure their fruit maintains its high quality by controlling the storage facility themselves and investing in the best technology available. Now, other farms truck their apples to the facility and use Cherry Lawn’s high-tech storage, too.

Ted Furber said the cost savings is a major factor in the decision to use solar power, but the noticeable climate change he has seen over the last decades was also prompted the push to go green.

The brothers personally jumped on the energy bandwagon savings by personally installing geothermal heat transfer technology six feet down at their homes. 

The overall object is to grow quality fruit and successfully market it to achieve the highest returns possible; accomplishing this in an efficient, environmentally sustainable and cost-effective way. 

To stay on the cutting edge of the industry, they attend meetings, staying involved in the industry by actively participating on various committees and boards advocating on behalf of all growers. "We also strive to know the consumer, and educate them about agricultural practices as needed", stated Ted. 

Currently, 70% of  Furber apples are grown for fresh fruit markets, 30% as process fruit. "Our fresh fruit apples are sold through 4 different packing house operations and the fresh slice market, our process fruit is sold through 3 processors. In addition, there are several farm markets that we sell apples to, along with our own small roadside stand," said Ted.

With an eye on the future, they will increase their solar output, by adding more panels to the building’s expansion, a move Ted hopes will give the facility a new array of panels  providing 90 to 95% of the building’s electrical needs.

The family farm is also looking at ways for  energy saving plans at their labor house for the Jamaican workers who began arriving in March, with more coming in closer to the harvest season.

The bottom line in going solar and adding wind machines to their fields supports Ted’s realization that "Fossil fuels are not clean" and climate change is real.

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