In Langdon, New Hampshire there is a forest full of hemlock, beech, oak, and pine. Over four hundred species of wildlife and vegetation call this forest home: red-tailed hawks, snowshoe hares, coyote, deer, bear, fox, wood frogs, red-spotted newts, a variety of songbirds, and many more. And for the last eight years, Antioch University has been the steward of the 76 acres that supports these species. The land is protected from development under a conservation easement held by the Monadnock Conservancy.
Today, the Glover’s Ledge property has grown to 81 acres, and the conservation initiative has also grown, gaining another aspect as the University, with its partner ReVision Energy, has finished installing a grid-tied 146kW ground-mounted solar array. On Thursday, April 28, a ribbon-cutting event will officially celebrate the opening of the array.
By investing in solar energy production, Antioch is working to provide an example of how institutions can implement their ideals concretely. “We are hoping this solar array serves as a resource that we can use to educate the broader community about the benefits of solar and why solar energy is an important part in combating climate change,” explains Kate Witte, a graduate student in the Environmental Education concentration in the MS in Environmental Studies program in New England.
Jude Nuru, an Antioch alum and co-owner of ReVision Energy, who also serves as their Director of Community Solar Initiatives, agrees. He says, “Incorporating the ground-mounted solar array into the landscape at Glover’s Ledge is a thoughtful integration of critical electricity production, environmental stewardship, and ecosystem protection.”
A Forest To Learn In
Education is the primary goal of Antioch University, and the University sees environmental education as the keystone that supports broader changes. These changes must be undertaken on individual and systemic levels so that humanity can address the perils of climate change. Glover’s Ledge is integral to that mission. When it was donated to Antioch in 2013, Glover’s Ledge had recently been heavily harvested for timber, leaving a thinned mature forest that was ideal for encouraging the vibrant, diverse wildlife habitat that exists there today.
“Glover’s Ledge is a wonderful outdoor resource for both the Antioch community and broader Cheshire County community,” says Witte. “It is so handy to have access to so many acres of green space just a short drive from campus, whether that be for research or recreation.” As the Education and Outreach Coordinator for Glover’s Ledge, Witte has seen first hand how students enjoy hiking the trails, studying the plant and wildlife, and learning about ongoing research and sustainable development initiatives.
Glover’s Ledge is marked by several distinct habitats that support many different wildlife species. There’s a stream, a small pond, wetland areas, and forested strip of land adjacent to the pond edge that, in scientific parlance, serves as a riparian buffer zone. Water habitats such as these face environmental degradation from development and climate change, but areas such as Glover’s Ledge offer secured land—spaces where the land and water are maintained in their natural states. The Environmental Studies department also maintains three two-acre wildlife openings in the forest. The combination of a conservation easement and various site-specific management techniques are effective, long-term tools for conservation.
Antioch sees its role on this parcel as one of stewardship, a commitment that’s led to a rich interaction with this space by faculty and students. Glover’s Ledge is a place for learning. Visitors are encouraged not only to learn how to care for a land rooted in ways that recognize its past, but to also seek solutions for the future.
These solutions can be applied beyond the bounds of these acres. From invasive species assessment and management, raptor monitoring, vernal pool research, and wildlife and vegetation inventories, the many projects taking place at Glover’s Ledge are a demonstration of how ecosystems work—and how human intervention, with a light touch, can help them survive and thrive even in a changing climate. Outreach and education projects, exhibit design and interpretive trail work, and use as a venue for meetings and personal reflection show how human beings can be part of ecosystems in mutually supportive ways.
Partnering with A Local Solar Cooperative
Last fall, when AUNE partnered with ReVision Energy to install a solar array on the site, this heralded a new phase in the effort to use Glover’s Ledge to remediate the looming environmental and ecological crisis caused by anthropogenic climate change. ReVision Energy is a Brentwood-based solar company that is 100% employee-owned and a Certified B-Corporation, meaning that it meets high standards of verified performance, accountability, and transparency on factors from employee benefits and charitable giving to supply chain practices and input materials. On this project with Antioch, ReVision Energy agreed to design and install a 146kW ground-mounted solar array on a south-facing slope that would tie into the larger power grid.
“Our partnership with AUNE is a long-term one,” says Caitlin Brooke of ReVision Energy. “From collaborating on other community solar initiatives, to hiring passionate AUNE alumni at ReVision Energy, the aligned missions of our organizations—both in environmental and social justice—make a powerful force for positive change.”
The installation of the panels at Glover’s Ledge is one of over ten thousand projects the company has completed since 2003 to help residents, businesses, and institutions move away from their reliance on fossil fuel.
The solar panels, beyond providing general-use electricity for the regional power grid, will also provide clean energy for the onsite classroom, a large, barn-like multi-use structure that serves as an environmental studies classroom, a research base, a space for conferences, and a setting for program orientations for many different departments across the university. The project furthers Antioch’s commitment to sustainability and brings a hands-on element to climate focused courses through the analysis of solar and weather data from the array.
Symbiosis With Community
The Glover’s Ledge team is led by Antioch faculty member Peter Palmiotto, who serves as Director of Antioch Forests and ES Department Chair. He sees in the Glover’s Ledge solar array tremendous learning opportunities for Antioch New England students. Among these opportunities is that faculty can now use data from the live solar monitoring feed in their graduate classes and projects. Additionally, in the last year the university has held numerous classes on the property and in the new solar powered classroom.
“Our goal,” wrote Palmiotto recently, “is to make Glover’s Ledge our premier outdoor classroom providing our graduate students with learner-centered education that empowers them with the knowledge and skills to be positive change agents and successful professionals.”
And the power of these solar panels is itself quite tangible. The array’s 360 panels are predicted to generate over 180,000 kilowatt-hours of energy annually, offsetting 281,000 pounds of carbon pollution every year. This is equivalent to planting over 2,100 trees or removing 28 gas-powered cars from the road. When the sun is shining, the array will produce electricity that is either used in real-time by the on-site facility, or sold back to the grid, benefitting the local community. With this project, Antioch is providing yet another example of how its commitment to environmental justice at Glover’s Ledge creates connections between the ecosystem, the community, and the planet.