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Civic Service Report

A new idea is blending energy and agriculture to power some Minnesota homes. Nokomis Energy has dozens of renewable energy projects about eighty miles south of Minneapolis one such program involves sheep.

Erin Hassanzadeh has more in this week’s Civic Service Report

Nestled in this quiet patch of unproductive farmland in Waseca

“Okay, in we go.”

There’s a clash of old

“There they are!”

And new.

“Come on over, Come on girls!”

Arlo Hark’s flock is hard at work in this now solar garden.

“She’s always skiddish. Her name is Leah. Hahaha.”

“So you’re wondering why they’re here, and it actually has nothing to do with solar panels. It’s about what’s underneath them.”

“Sheep have their own particular type of skill set.”

They’re grazing essentially mowing the lawn, the land to help restore a native prairie habitat underneath the panels.

“This would be a much bushier, much bigger.”

Part of a growing trend to find a second purpose for land beneath renewables.

“Minnesota’s really been a leader in saying, well, we can’t we use that land for something more than just growing grass, and so we think of the land as something we now have to care for. We’ve gotta be a good neighbor to that farmer that community.”

You can see the difference from the air. The left side? Is mowed.the right? Grazed by Arlo’s sheep.

“In a lot of ways, it’s like hiring a landscaper. It’s like, hey, I’m not hiring a mower. I’m hiring the sheep guy, It’s not like people are running around with huge flocks of sheep today, but
they’re building them, It’s really entrepreneurial.”

Call it a modern style of agriculture

“All these sites need vegetation management.”

Expanding technologies of the future while restoring landscapes of the past.

“I think its a really incredible tool to have.”

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