What does it mean to live a principled and sustainable life in the 21st century? At Hancock Shaker Village, we look back to the legacy of the Shakers for answers. Understanding energy consumption is key, both as individuals and as members of a larger national and world community. The Shakers provide both inspiration and practical answers in their use water power, wind power and other renewable energy.
In September 2012, SABIC Innovative Plastics helped build high-tunnel greenhouses that would allow HSV to expand the season for its community-supported agriculture program (CSA) and provide learning opportunities for visitors. SABIC donated $17,500 and LEXAN™ polycarbonate sheeting, as well as more than 600 hours of volunteer service. USDA funds aided our purchase of materials for a second greenhouse, and supported the installation of a composting pad.
In late 2009, Hancock Shaker Village, in partnership with EOS Ventures and Alteris Renewables, installed both ground- and roof-mounted solar panels at its Visitor Center and Center for Shaker Studies complex. Called the Berkshire Bundle, this project is part of a system with six other sites that measures 89.6 killowatts, roughly equivalent to one-third of HSV’s annual electricity consumption. The panels are connected to the grid with a net metering feature – if the Village generates more power than it needs, it can send electricity back to the grid to be credited for use another time, effectively “running the meter backwards.” Click here to see the system’s hourly, daily and lifetime energy production.
From 2008 to 2010, Hancock Shaker Village participated in a three-year project to plant, harvest, and evaluate crops used to make biofuels. Managed by UMass research professors, the project used crops not suitable for food production and land not being used for food production. In less than an acre of reclaimed garden at HSV, Crambe, Switchgrass and Sunflower were planted. To learn how these crops fare in varying soil types and weather patterns, the same crops were planted at multiple sites throughout Massachusetts so that researchers could determine their relative success, including how much care they require, and the expense to grow and harvest them. The researchers’ findings are being used to guide farmers who grow biofuel crops, and help ensure that the Commonwealth continues to lead the way in the development of alternative energies.
Collaborating Organizations include the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, the Green Pastures Fund, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Berkshire Biodiesel, Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, Massachusetts Dept. of Agricultural Resources, Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs, and the Massachusetts Division of Energy Resources.