Sun isn’t typically one of the main ingredients needed to grow mushrooms, but on a commercial scale it actually does take a lot of energy. And that’s why Marlboro Mushrooms has installed nearly 5,000 solar panels—capable of putting at 1.13 megawatts of energy—at its family mushroom farm in West Grove, Pennsylvania.
Marlboro Mushrooms is said to be one of the only solar-powered mushroom farms in the world, and the oldest mushroom farm in the nation. The farm is owned by brothers Tom and Harold Brosius, the sixth-generation of farmers who’ve been growing crops on the same piece of property since 1835. The farm produces about 4 million pounds of mushrooms a year that are shipped as far as California and Florida.
The brothers are banking on the use of renewable energy sources like solar power to help them offset the majority of their energy costs for decades to come. They anticipate the solar arrays, which are spread across seven acres of the farm, to provide a more sustainable and and environmentally friendly business model. The array, installed by Southern Energy Management, uses a specialized tracking system outfitted with GPS technology to ensure the modules are always tracking the sun.
“Keeping mushroom crops in a controlled environment requires a tremendous amount of electricity to maintain optimal growing conditions, and we thought it was a natural step to use solar power to shoulder some of that load,” Tom Brosius said in a statement. “It is great to harvest the sun’s power and take advantage of a renewable resource. We anticipate it will generate 100 percent of our annual electric needs.”
Construction of the ground-mounted solar array went up in almost no time. Crews started work on the installation in late August and had the entire system on line by the end of November, a full three weeks ahead of schedule. The Marlboro Mushrooms array is also the largest moving solar array in Pennsylvania.