As winter approached in 2018, a curious plot of vegetables planted beneath neat rows of sloping solar panels on stilts at Manzo Elementary School in Tucson was still going strong. Greg Barron-Gafford, an associate professor at the University of Arizona’s School of Geography, Development and Environment, and his research team had watched the plants flourish under the panels’ shade throughout the summer, one of the hottest on record, and he was eager to see how long they would last. “We had basil and tomatoes go throughout the entire winter,” Barron-Gafford told HuffPost. “At that point, instead of being annual, they turned into perennial crops.” One of the basil plants grew over 8 feet tall. The student gardening group sold 9 gallons of pesto at a farmers market. The productivity of the garden — part of the university’s Community School and Garden program ― provided encouraging results for Barron-Gafford’s research on “agrivoltaics”: growing food and generating solar energy on the same land. As renewable energy ramps up, the concept could at once help fulfill the need for land on which to build new solar installations while also helping farmers stay afloat in the face of converging stressors. U.S. farmland is […]


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