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Swift action by the Girgarre Development Group earlier this month, proved there’s truth in the old adage “make hay while the sun shines”. The opportunity to harvest the bumper lucerne crop on the site of a large solar farm on Mason Road was too good to miss. The development group was more than happy when the Italian based owners of the 250-hectare site ENEL Green Energy International readily granted them access to the property for the second year running.

“Last year, the sale of the fodder to local farmers benefitted the local community to the tune of $17,000,” Deputy Chair of the development group, Greg Fitzpatrick said recently. “With the good rains and record growth this winter, we estimate we will easily double last year’s yield.

“Gaining early access from the company was a boon. The weather is always a bit of a lottery, but we were able to get in early and roll part of the crop for silage before the weather broke. With the good follow up rains we’ve had, we are now expecting a high yielding second cut. All of this season’s fodder has been pre-sold and the funds raised will go towards lighting at the netball courts and improvements at the recreation reserve.”

“I couldn’t be happier with the outcome”, Greg said. “It’s a significant and generous donation and a win-win situation for both the community and the company. We have the benefit of the funds, and the company has their property cleared of excess growth before it becomes a problem for the CFA as the summer fire season approaches. We appreciate it a great deal and look forward to continuing to work with ENEL well into the future.

Chair of the Development Group, Jan Smith also said she was encouraged by ENEL’s policy of engaging with local communities in the districts where they establish solar farms. “We have regular updates from the Leeson Group, the Australian based managers of the project,” she said. “And the company’s willingness to actively work with us to identify opportunities for continued shared social interaction is heartening. It will be advantageous to both the company and to our small community as the development gets underway. The hay is a windfall; just the beginning of what we confidently believe will be a fruitful and long-term relationship well into the future.”

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