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Alternative Energy/Farm Construction

Daly City/Colma 4‐H | San Mateo County Status: In Progress Categories: Citizenship, Engineering and Technology, Environmental Stewardship, Physical Activity and Exercise, Science Youth Leader: Justin | Age: 16

The Issue

The Daly City/Colma 4‐H farm is located in a ravine, accessed by dirt roads winding down a steep hill only part of the way to the farm. The actual farm lies some 500 yards further down the slope from the end of the road, only accessible by foot. It has no electrical power, or reasonable way to get city supplied power to it. This creates unsafe conditions in the afternoon/evening when caring for animals. Members hike down to tend animals by flashlight most winter mornings and evenings. Although one family donated a working generator for farm use, it is large, heavy and awkward. When used, two people are required to move it from its inside storage area, as the fumes it produces and gas cannot be present in the farm barn. It gets little use, as farm youth can't move it and dislike the fumes.

How will 4-H Help?

After considerable research, and with initial funding from Recology, our youth are building and installing solar panels from scratch to enable interior and exterior lighting. While the problem was apparent ‐ as was the hazard, the move of the county fair from August to June has meant that 4‐H youth are not raising their livestock in daylight savings time. In short ‐ the challenge became greater. Accordingly, 4‐H Club leadership opened a countywide alternative energy project with no age restrictions. Initial grant funding from a local recycling company enabled the purchase of solar cells, the wood that we used to build boxes and Plexiglas. Youth members have learned skills including how to use a drill gun (older members gained experience on safe use of battery operated power tools), soldering, how to measure power from solar cells, how to assess and calculate power needs and basic electrical circuit theory. In addition to partnering with Recology, we are working with Solar City, a local solar power company targeting residential on‐grid projects to purchase supplies at a discount. Read more about our work with Recology,