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HomeNewsLocal newsRotary Gifts Bordeaux Farmers Market a Solar Fridge

Rotary Gifts Bordeaux Farmers Market a Solar Fridge

St.Thomas Rotary East Eco Club members, from left, Katherine Shegrud, Debbi Jackson, Leslie White, Doug White and Andrew Jackson present a check to We Grow Food Inc. President Eldridge Thomas. (Submitted photo)

It’s not quite Christmas but farmers on the West End of St. Thomas already have a gift in use. The Rotary Club of St. Thomas East ECO bought the Bordeaux Farmers Market a solar-powered refrigeration system Sunday.

The idea is for the solar refrigeration system to reduce food waste, energy costs and electrical instability for Virgin Islands farmers, said Doug White, environmental sustainability chair for Rotary Club of St. Thomas East ECO — one of the first 10 eco clubs of 65,000 rotary clubs globally.

Having run an organic farm in Dominica for many years, White knew the disappointment of food waste because of lacking refrigeration. “It was a win-win for reducing food waste and from the high energy burden for the farmers down here,” he said. “When we looked at all the benefits that a project like this can have, that was one of the reasons our local club wanted to get behind it.”

The 15-kilowatt photovoltaic array and 15 kilowatt lithium battery backup will provide solar power for the refrigeration system and will guarantee the availability of power to the entire Bordeaux Farmers Market, Rotary officials said.

Funding for the entire project came from a variety of Rotary and other local sources, totaling $55,000. Local Rotary donations included St. Thomas Rotary East Eco Club and Rotary District 7020. Rotary East Eco’s contribution came from a private donation by Brad Camrud through Solarize St. Thomas’ Share the Sun Program.

Rotary International partners in the Global Grant included the Rotary Club of Ann Arbor North, Michigan, and Rotary District 6380, the Rotary Club of Toledo, Ohio, and District 6600, the Rotary Club of Boise, Idaho, and District 5400, the Rotary Club of Hanalei Bay, Kauai, Hawaii, and the Environmental Sustainability Rotary Action Group, Eastern North America Regional Chapter.

Additional local support for the project came from the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands, which donated $20,000 for the solar installation and a 10-foot by 10-foot walk-in cooler. A backup generator was donated by the Food Producers Network of World Central Kitchen. The solar installation will be completed by Silver Sun Solar.

Rotary listed an array of benefits from the new refrigeration system:

• An estimated solar energy savings of $259,570 for the farmers over 25 years, contributing to the island’s community economic development;

• Battery backup power during frequent power outages, providing farmers with resilience and disaster preparedness capabilities;

• A reduction in food waste since perishable items will now be able to be properly stored for future use or sale rather than be discarded;

• An enhancement to local food security;

• Clean energy equalling 333 tons of CO2 emissions reduced over 20 years;

• A reduction to the farmers’ high energy burden, which is twice that of the mainland farmers;

• Continued promotion of locally grown organic food;

• Encouragement and incentives for the adoption of a plant rich diet;

• And promotion of energy equity and climate justice.

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