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Farmer: Culpeper officials should protect our heritage and land from solar complexes
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Farmer: Culpeper officials should protect our heritage and land from solar complexes

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As a farmer in Culpeper County, I was shocked by Cricket Solar’s recently published supplemental project narrative for its proposed solar complex, where it so incorrectly states the following: “Notably, the actual soils throughout the property are not fertile and are nonproductive for agricultural use, notwithstanding the state designation.”

Annually, farming roughly 4,000 acres of agricultural land, I am able to refute this inaccurate claim that the land in Culpeper County is not fertile, nor productive. In reality, the land along Culpeper’s Algonquin Trail, in addition to providing acres of picturesque scenery, performs very well when farmed correctly. In the last couple of years, some of my best yields have resulted from the arable soil within the area Cricket has designated for this project.

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I am not against the use of solar power for energy per se. But I do not support the irresponsible placement of industrial-sized solar complexes on fertile, agricultural land. If there were a “need” for it, in terms of Culpeper County’s energy use, that would be different—but there is not. I do not like inefficient solar complexes that rely on tax breaks, particularly when an outside company is taking advantage of a rural area.

Over the decades, I’ve maintained my livelihood through the use of the fertile soil in Culpeper County. A fellow farmer, William Foshay, previously farmed some of my acreage in the Racoon Ford area and won numerous crop-yield awards during the 1990s and early 2000s, including first place in the 1999 Virginia Soybean Full Season Non-Irrigated Yield Contest. These awards act as a true testament to the bounty of the soil in this agricultural area.

A solar project such as that proposed by Cricket Solar will undoubtedly change the entire surrounding ecosystem that it disrupts, affecting the environment for years to come, and acting as a direct threat to the existing scenery—not to mention the history of our nation, which lies even deeper within this soil. Its unsightly solar panels will not easily be concealed, ruining the beautiful serenity of the Virginia pastures and fields. And, in their implantation, they will leach the soil of rich nutrients, leaving once-grassy knolls dry and barren.

I feel I speak for a majority of the community in Culpeper County when I urge those with power to use it—and put a stop to such a project from coming to fruition. Residents such as myself look to the Board of Supervisors and the Planning Commission to protect our heritage and our land, and keep the best interests of the county at heart.

Tom Nixon of Culpeper farms 8,000 acres in the county, including land along Algonquin Trail near the proposed Cricket Solar project site. He has served on the boards of the Culpeper County Farmer’s Co-op and the Virginia Cattlemen Association.

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