As important as formal tours are, our informal
outreach is a larger and perhaps more effective program. We have an
open-door policy where anyone who calls or just stops by is
accommodated with whatever level of discussion they would like.
As nice as it is to win recognition for our forestry,
even better is having appreciative people who have visited ask to
come back again. Ask they do, bringing parents, grandparents,
children, siblings, and friends from across the country and
throughout the world. People from Russia, Tanzania, Australia and
Canada are numbered among those who have been brought to tour our
forest farm and become our friends.
It does not matter why folks have come to tour our
home place. Every visitor gets treated to a talk on sustainable
forestry. Some who have come thinking they will see just
a garden, a solar power system, or a solar cooking demonstration go
away with a new appreciation for managed forests.
The greatest challenge faced by our community is the
need for economic diversification. Our involvement with renewable
energy (RE) gave us the idea that RE might provide the identity and
inspiration for a region looking for new direction.
In 1999, we started SolWest
RE Fair, an event which involves interested people from around
the West in four to five days of learning, sharing ideas, buying and
selling RE technology. SolWest has grown into a nonprofit
organization named EORenew (Eastern Oregon Renewable Energies
Non-profit), which sponsors energy education courses, tours, and
events throughout the year.
The work with SolWest has developed into a half-time
job for Jennifer as director of EORenew. The employment provides the
cash to fill the need for things not produced at Morning Hill Forest
Farm. Solar energy is used to produce all our electricity, for
cooking, and passive heating. Fuel wood from our forestry activities
(pruning, thinning, and logging slash) provides energy for cooking,
space heating, and water heating (including our wood-fired hot tub).
This provides 100% of our homes energy on-site. Morning Hill
tackled the West Coast energy crunch 20 years ahead of time. We have
not had a blackout (rolling or otherwise) at Morning Hill for over 20
April 12, 1994
Dear Jennifer and Lance,
This is to formally let you know that the Demo Project
Evaluation Committee has approved your tree farm for inclusion in the
BMNRI Demo Project Network. Members of the committee feel your
objectives and low impact adaptive management practices
deliver a positive message that other land owners, managers, and
people from all walks of life can learn from...
The solar electric system, acquired piece by piece
over the last twenty years, is a key part of our sustainability
program. It allows us the economic freedom to practice the kind of
forestry that in todays economy is normally only possible for
owners with outside financing. One thing we dont need cash for
is a utility bill!
Our program is supported, not by a regular
job or independent wealth, but by careful integration of all our
resources. When our finances permit, we add to our energy system. We
now have nearly 3KW of photovoltaic panels in the system, along with
a sinewave AC inverter which runs all our household appliances
(refrigerator, freezer, stereo, TV, washing machine, etc.), our power
tools, and our deep well pump for irrigating our green lawn/firebreak
and our extensive vegetable garden.