My sisters and I own and operate a 270-acre, non-irrigated farm in Lincoln, Nebraska that has been in our family for generations. We grow soybeans, corn, alfalfa and other crops, which this year is producing a small income, but not enough to live on and barely enough to pay the taxes. We’ve formed an LLC called Off the Grid! Reed’s Green Growers since under the threat of eminent domain, Lincoln Electric put 150’ power lines through our farm. They thought that was the only solution to providing electricity to our growing, Midwestern community. As a result we were forced to move the house that our father was born in. My sister had to buy another property since her growing boys and their ability to produce children might be compromised living under power lines. So here’s our plan.
• Since our land is on the highest point in the Oak Creek Valley with never-ending wind, we want to harness wind and solar energy to run the farm and then sell the leftover energy back to the grid.
• We need a new well to support our plans and in the process of digging the well, we’d also like to drill deeper to see if geothermal energy would be possible and if so, that leftover energy would also be sold back to the grid.
• We would then create a self-sustaining greenhouse and eventually an all-organic farm that would provide food for the community, education on self-sustainment and alternative energy and most importantly jobs.
• We’re partnering with a company that creates bricks out of compressed earth, much like the sod houses of our ancestors. With the growing Hmong community in Lincoln, we would make homes for these underserved people and others who would also be trained in organic farming and self-sustainment.
• We’re already creating a hardy strain of fir and cedar trees to replace Scotch pine, which create windbreaks all over Nebraska. Unfortunately those trees are dying of pine wilt and will soon need to be replaced. This profit center for our operation is already in progress.
• My sister Alice, who is the chief gardener for the city of Lincoln, has applied for a matching fund through the Nebraska Season Extension Project to build a green house, but progress on that and on all of our plans are in fits and spurts because of lack of funding.
• With our Off the Grid! Reed’s Green Growers plan we will:
-Educate America about self-sustainment, alternative energy and organic farming
-Provide a space for local small businesses as well as an outlet for artists to perform and create their work in our largest barn in the county
-Hold an alternative farmers’ market on Sundays to supplement the one held on Saturday in the community.
If we can make this work in the harsh climate of Nebraska, we can make it work anywhere.