Students Learn About New Face of Farming in NC

MOUNT AIRY, N.C. — Some North Carolina students are learning about the science behind solar farms and green energy along with entering into a world with a new type of agriculture.

Mount Airy Schools eighth graders have been learning about renewable energy in their science class and are now seeing it in action, with a hands-on tour of a solar farm.

"Coming out to visit this farm, you can see the technology, the engineering behind it, and the math behind it, how it makes money and how it provides tax revenues to the county,” said Joel Olsen, president of O2 Energies.

The farm is about 5 years old, and is one of two O2 energies operates in Mount Airy.

"When you go out and see stuff like this, it's kind of amazing to look at and realize that it can power 600 homes for up to a year,” said student Devin Haynes.

Not only are the students learning about the power of harnessing green energy, but how a solar farm can actually be a working farm. The solar farm in Mount Airy is home to 100 sheep.

"They eat the grass and keep it down so that O2 Energies doesn’t have to use gas engines to mow it,” said Renee Westmoreland with Sun-Raised Farms. “I get the pastureland, and in return I have a product, which is grass-fed lamb.”

"When we build a solar farm, we try to preserve the existing farmland, and in many cases we create new acres of farmland that didn't exist before,” Olsen said.

"I learned that the different ways you can generate energy,” said student Catherine Sawyers. “Not only using fossil fuels, but solar energy, too."

O2 Energies operates 10 solar farms across the state. All are working farms.

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