Hancock Shaker Village is a center for exploring what it means to live a principled life in the 21st century. Part of that process is to understand the impact of energy consumption on our selves, our community, and our world. We at Hancock Shaker Village look to the Shakers’ use of water, wind and other renewable energy sources as an inspiration for how we run the Village today.
In September of 2012, SABIC Innovative Plastics undertook a 4-day agricultural infrastructure project focused on building high tunnel greenhouses that will expand the Village’s CSA season as well as offer learning opportunities to HSV visitors. SABIC’s monetary donation of $17,500, along with a donation of its LEXAN™ polycarbonate sheet, and over 600 hours of volunteer services, made it possible for the living history museum to perform the improvements. “We have been touched by the personal commitment and financial investment SABIC has made to our facility over the course of the last several months,” said HSV President & CEO, Linda Steigleder. “They have worked closely with our staff to design and install this important new resource.” USDA funds helped to support the purchase of materials for the second greenhouse, and will also support the installation of a composting pad later in 2012.
In late 2009, Hancock Shaker Village, in partnership with EOS Ventures and Alteris Renewables, installed both ground and roof-mounted solar panels at our modern Visitor Center complex. Part of a larger project with 6 other sites called The Berkshire Bundle, this system measures 89.6 killowatts, equal to about 1/3 of HSV’s annual electricity consumption. Hancock Shaker Village did not pay for and does not own the equipment, but rather entered into a Power Purchase Agreement with the system’s owner for a period of 20 years. The panels are connected to the grid with a net metering feature – if we generate more power than we actually need on a given day, then we send electricity to the grid and are credited for use at another time, effectively “running the meter backwards.” Click here to see the system’s hourly, daily and lifetime energy production.
From 2008-2010, Hancock Shaker Village participated in a 3 year project to plant, harvest, and evaluate the yield of crops that can be used to make biofuels. Managed by UMass research professors, the project used crops that are not suitable for food production, and on land that was not being used for food production. In a reclaimed Shaker garden area, we planted just under 1 acre of these Crambe, Switchgrass and Sunflower. To discover how the crops fare in varying soil types and weather patterns, crops were grown at multiple sites throughout Massachusetts. Researchers determined how much care the crops require, including the expense to grow and harvest them. Findings are being used to encourage farmers to grow biofuel crops, and to help ensure that Massachusetts continues to be a leader in developing alternative energies.
Collaborating Organizations: Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation from the Green Pastures Fund, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Berkshire Biodiesel, Mass. Technology Collaborative, Mass. Dept. of Agricultural Resources, Mass. Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs, Mass. Division of Energy Resources.