The Mesa County Library Discovery Garden on 5th Street and Chipeta Avenue continues to bloom with plant life and new developments. This plot of land is used to offer a quiet place to relax, to share educational programming with the public, and to offer free, healthy vegetables for our community to eat and enjoy. One of our recent developments to the garden comes in the form of solar panels.
Solar panels are used far and wide to convert the energy of the sun into renewable electricity, perfect for homes and businesses hoping to become more cost efficient and sustainable. In a nutshell, solar panels are made up of groups of solar cells, or photovoltaic cells. The solar cell was invented and patented by Russel Ohl in 1941, and the solar panel was created by the company Ohl worked for in 1954. The solar cells absorb photons (the basic unit, or particle, of light) and initiates an electric current. An inverter is then used to absorb the current, convert it, and direct it.
The library’s goal with the garden solar panel addition is to automate irrigation to prevent water waste. The Discovery Garden is exceptionally grateful for the grant assistance provided by the Colorado State Conservation Board, and we also owe many thanks to Atlasta Solar for installing 10 solar electric panels and all the necessary components to bring solar energy in our garden to fruition. Registered Landscape Architect and member of the Discovery Garden Committee Rob Breeden explains how the installation of solar energy will benefit the garden plot:
“Since no grid-tied electrical service is installed on site, the garden leadership team determined that having a small amount of electricity generated by the sun would be a good opportunity to teach the public about how solar electricity works. We plan to power small electrical devices such as lighting, a water pump, and monitoring equipment inside the hoop house….Our goal is to display a functioning irrigation system that only runs when plant zones need water. This will be achieved through the use of monitoring equipment that sends signals to the controller to water the plants only when soil moisture is low, the wind is not blowing, it’s not raining, and when temperatures are above a certain degree.”
We can’t currently extend Discovery Garden volunteer positions to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but feel free to explore the space and take a stroll through the garden plot anytime you’d like. All are welcome!