Since Wright-Locke Farm has embarked on the design of its new year-round All Seasons Barn, the building has gone through several iterations. And the most recent one is to outfit the barn with environmentally friendly heating and cooling technology that will ensure long-term savings and lead the way in the farm's environmental efforts.
“We really want to make sure we’re taking care of future generations,” said Kim Kneeland, Wright-Locke Farm’s community engagement manager.
This green initiative gained more traction with a pledge by a donor whose matching donation of $75,000 will fund the building’s green installations. To meet the match, the farm kicked off the Green Match Challenge to raise $75,000 by June 21. So far, the farm has raised over a third and the team plans to break ground for the barn this October.
As part of the initiative, the farm is looking at the geothermal heating and cooling system and an air source pump, the technologies that have been endorsed and promoted by the Winchester and Arlington HeatSmart program. The design will also include efficient window insulation, and smart rainwater systems. “We hope that this building can have minimal impact on the environment,” said Wright-Locke Farm’s Executive Director Archie McIntyre.
The All Seasons Barn, a simple rectangular barn, will replace the northernmost of the farm’s four buildings - the dilapidated yellow building on the hill. It will allow the farm to operate all year round, sustaining the organization financially. Currently the farm is open for programming only seven months a year, and shuts down for the other five.
The estimated cost for the All Seasons Barn is $3.2 million, and the farm has already raised $2.2 million toward the goal. The farm’s team is currently going through the permitting process with the town, and has already met with the Planning Board, the Historical Commission and will meet with the Design Review Committee and the Zoning Board of Appeals in the coming weeks.
Making all of Wright-Locke Farm’s buildings environmentally sustainable echoes the farm’s newly adopted five-year strategic plan, which focuses on a triple bottom line of environmental sustainability, social responsibility and financial stewardship, said McIntyre.
Push for solar panels on farm's buildings
But an earlier environmental effort to install solar panels on the farm’s barns has proved to be a challenging task. While the Select Board and the Historical Commission unanimously supported the panels, the project was denied by the Massachusetts Historical Commission, which holds preservation restrictions on the exteriors of Wright-Locke Farm’s historical barns. But McIntyre, in partnership with Sens. Jason Lewis and Pat Jehlen, and other officials from neighboring towns, is appealing the decision to the Secretary of State’s office.
“In theory if we get those, this whole farm could approach net zero in terms of its carbon footprint,” said McIntyre. “We feel that the farm is pretty public, and we should be leading. We should not be going in the wrong direction - we should be showing Winchester residents that you alone can make a difference. You may not solve global working, but every little bit is going to help.”
To install a geothermal system, which consists of pipes drawing energy from the earth – will involve digging up 12 500-foot wells. And that’s not a cheap endeavor. To create the wells alone, not including the entire system, would cost about $60,000. “It’s a renewable source, it’s an additional capital cost up front,” said McIntyre. “To do the right thing - it does cost you more. But over the life cycle, there will be savings and environmental befit.”
The lack of attention to climate change on the national level, McIntyre noted, adds urgency to the farm's environmental efforts.
“It’s incumbent upon the local, state and regional efforts to start making a difference,” said McIntyre. “We’ve got to do our job.”
To donate to the Green Match Challenge, visit www.WLFarm.org