Daniel Mays wanted to celebrate the 10th year of Frith Farm in style, so he put 60 solar panels on the roof of his Scarborough barn. Frith Farm is a small, no-till farm that puts high value on increasing biodiversity and strengthening community by growing good food and being a good neighbor. Mays and his team grow organic vegetables, herbs and flowers and host workshops and community events.

The solar panels were the next logical step in the farm’s commitment to its long-term stake in the community, he said. “It’s always been something on my mind, and we were finally in a position to move forward with it,” he said. “The 10th season felt like a real milestone and the barn needed a new roof, so it was a natural time to also cover it with solar panels.”

Maine Solar Solutions installed the panels on the roof of the Frith Farm barn last fall. The system covers 98 percent of the farm’s energy use and is estimated it will offset 48,000 pounds of carbon emissions in its first year, or the equivalent of 1,200 trees per year, said Heather Hodgkins, of Maine Solar Solutions. In recognition of investment, Frith Farm is a winner of a 2020 Source sustainability award.

Molly Markel, left, Daniel Mays and other members of the crew at Frith Farm transplant high bush blueberry bushes at the Scarborough farm. Frith Farm is the 2020 Source Sustainability Force Field Award winner. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

In her nominating letter, Hodgkins called Frith Farm a “Maine sustainability hero.” The solar array will teach people who visit the farm about the importance of renewable energy, and it creates an environmentally sound and sustainable business to pass along to future farm operators, she said. Sustainable energy aside, Frith Farm enriches the community by offering organic vegetables and pasture-raised eggs, pork and poultry at farmers markets, grocers, co-ops and restaurants.

“I really respect what they’re doing,” she said in a phone interview. “They are doing amazing work, growing wonderful produce and following environmentally friendly rules, but they’re also inviting the community to learn about farming and how easy it is go local,” Hodgkins said.

Mays grew up in the farm country of Chester County, Pennsylvania, with rolling hills and stone houses. Through Waldorf and Quaker educations, he learned about living in harmony with the land and with respect for nature. He studied environmental engineering at graduate school at Stanford University, where he learned about sustainability from local and global perspectives. He settled on 14 acres in Scarborough because he likes the land and the community.

“I was clear from beginning, I wanted to be close to my customers. I didn’t want to be spending many hours a week driving food around. Our food hasn’t spent a lot of time in vehicles being trucked across the country. We are a community-based farm, where neighbors walk down the road to pick up their CSA shares,” he said.

Being close to the land is what it means to be alive. “As terrestrial creatures, the land is us. It’s what we rely on for our survival. To take care of it is to take care of ourselves,” he said. “It’s a no-brainer for me.”

Molly Markel, left, and Ana Solis organize seedlings in a greenhouse at Frith Farm in Scarborough farm. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

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