South Campus FAQ
FAQs about the Antioch Farm
Why is the farm located on-campus, rather than off-campus?
Integration into the campus is one of the core reasons that we have the ability to use the farm in ways beyond what other campuses can do. Students can walk here between classes. Faculty can bring students to the farm within a class period. Participation is greater than on other farms because we don’t have a distance-related barrier to participation.
How will Antioch protect water quality?
We believe that the farm needs to be designed and operated in a way that does not pollute the neighborhood or Glen Helen. This means making choices about contouring swales, adjusting animals in density and location so that we don’t create runoff, and being intentional about what is planted in or near the the drainage that runs west to east across the area.
How will you work around the sinkholes in the vicinity?
We need to tread carefully, and respect the geology of the property. It may be that some of the areas vulnerable to sink holes simply need to be avoided. Others might be covered up or filled in.
What is the importance of animals on the Antioch farm?
We are trying to develop a farm that mimics natural systems. All natural ecosystems include animal components, which are important to the fertility cycle. Agricultural systems without an animal component require the importing of fertility, mostly in the form of chemical products and/or animal manure from other sites.
Also, in natural systems, you gain resilience as you increase diversity. Natural systems are also symbiotic, where plants and animals work in concert to build the richness of their environment. For example, various animals have different grazing habits as well as fertility contributions to the land.
With increased diversity, we also get increased learning opportunities. For example, one of the things that we are contemplating doing with chickens and sheep is cultivating a population of an endangered heritage breed.
What is Antioch College doing to respect the interests of its neighbors?
We believe that the farm will be a beautiful and attractive place to live and be near. We will continue to welcome the public, and to provide access to the property. In addition, and out of consideration for our neighbors and others who have enjoyed a relationship with this land, we are planning towards creating a buffer between the farm and neighboring properties, and hoping to build a one-mile walking trail into that buffer. We envision educational kiosks and signage, benches for walkers to relax, plants that provide pollinator habitat and bluebird boxes to attract more of these birds to campus.
Also, Antioch has an extraordinary piece of green space next to campus—the Glen Helen nature preserve—with 20 miles of trails, open to the public every day of the year. The College recently placed an environmental covenant on the Glen to ensure that it remains forever protected and accessible to visitors.
Is it ethical to eat meat?
The farm does not set out to answer that meaningful philosophical question. However, these are the kind of scientific, social, and philosophical topics that we would like our students to explore with rigor. And, one of the functions of having a farm on campus and integrated into the curriculum is that it provides the setting for students to consider issues like the ethical choices we make with our diets.
How can I learn more about sustainable farming?
For starters, come to one of our weekly volunteer days. For the current schedule, and to learn more about activities on the Antioch Farm, visit our web page, at www.antiochcollege.org/campus_life/farm. Other solid sources of information about ecological agriculture include the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service, found online at www.attra.ncat.org. We lean heavily on the works of a number of experts in the field, including Wendell Berry, Joel Salatin, and Mark Shepard.
FAQs about the Solar Farm
Are solar arrays safe for the environment?
The generation of electricity from photovoltaic (PV) solar panels is safe and effective. Because PV systems do not burn fossil fuels, they do not produce the toxic air or greenhouse gas emissions associated with conventional fossil fuel fired generation technologies. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, few power-generating technologies have as little environmental impact as PV solar panels.
What are the size and specifications of the solar panels?
The panels are 6’ 10” tall and sit 2’ 7”off the ground. The panels are stationary.
Will the solar panels glare? Do they get hot?
With regard to reflectivity, solar panels are designed to absorb light as opposed to reflect light. The FAA approval of a solar site in Xenia that sits in a flight path is a testament to this.
With regard to temperature, the outer surface of a solar panel does not appreciably increase in temperature, but the underside does. We measure this temperature with a thermocouple for use in performance analysis of energy production.
Is there an issue with bird collisions on the solar panels (attracted by the reflective surface or by warmth?), and if so, can anything be done to limit these?
There are no issues with bird collisions related to solar PV arrays. This is more closely tied to large utility-scale solar thermal farms that use mirrors to concentrate the sun’s rays onto large towers that heat liquids and run steam turbines to create electricity. The heat is so intense that birds flying through this type of array literally get scorched. This is not a concern for a standard field-installed PV solar array—which is what Antioch is planning—regardless of size.
How will you ensure safety around the solar panels?
The array will be surrounded by a black, 8-foot tall chain link fence.
Have you considered making the solar array more aesthetically pleasing or more of an artistic installation?
Our arts faculty and students are working together to develop a visual solution that includes gardens and artistic features to improve aesthetics.
What is the life span of the solar panels?
The panels will last approximately 30 years.
Will the solar array be noisy?
The sound from the inverters will not be heard beyond 10 feet or so.
Are the panels made out of glass, and if so, do they ever break? Under what conditions would they break?
The outer surface of a solar panel is covered with tempered glass. Typically they would only break due to vandalism or gun fire, but are rated for golf ball size hail and designed for 90 MPH wind loads in accordance to national and local building codes.
What type of maintenance is required? Who is responsible?
Periodic cleaning of panels will be required. Antioch College will manage the grounds and cleaning, and mowing will be done periodically around the arrays. Sheep may eventually graze the area to manage vegetative growth.
Will any trees be cut down?
We have intentionally positioned the array to minimize tree removal. Several trees in the middle of the field must be sacrificed, but the Sycamore trees along Correy Street will remain untouched.
Why was the South Campus location chosen?
The solar array must be behind Antioch’s primary meter in order to feed the College’s grid.
Were other options explored?
We considered both roof and parking lot options, but found that there is not enough roof or parking lot space for 1MW generation. In addition, a distributed roof top system would drive up costs, making the project financially unfeasible.
How would the impervious hard surface of the solar array effect drainage/run-off on the existing area and the Glen?
No impact is anticipated since there is already a natural run-off swail from Herman St.
Does the array act in any way like a "roof," thereby affecting how much rainfall reaches the earth below, potentially affecting drainage/run-off on the existing and surrounding areas?
The panels are installed at a 25 degree angle and are spaced 10-15 feet apart from row to row, so there is no appreciable change in rainfall flow dynamics. It is important to re-seed the areas among the installed array with low-growth grass to avoid soil erosion, which we will do as part of the final install procedure.