A state solar energy incentive program launched last November has a handful of Massachusetts cranberry farmers hoping for a new way to farm their fruit — and stay in the farming business.
The Solar Massachusetts Renewable Energy Target (SMART) program awards farmers a stipend for the solar energy they produce from solar panels built over their active farmland. Some cranberry farmers are skeptical and say building solar panels over their bogs is too risky; it could destroy their crop. Others say solar panels are their only option to keep afloat in a struggling industry.
Cranberries are the commonwealth’s largest agricultural food crop, but the industry has hit hard times. Last year, cranberry prices in Massachusetts cratered, falling to $22 for a barrel (or 100 pounds) of the fruit. It was a 29 percent tumble from prices the year before, and the lowest price per barrel in almost two decades.
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