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Success Stories

REAP Helps Nettie Fox Farm Step Away from Fossil Fuels

Leigh Hallett
Clean Energy
Food Supply
Know Your Farmer
Local Foods
Local Produce
Renewable Energy
Solar Energy
Molly and Everett pose with dog Cricket in front of their barn with the solar panels on the roof.

Nestled in the gently rolling hills of Newburgh, Maine, Nettie Fox Farm produces certified organic vegetables. Molly Crouse founded the farm in 2009. In 2013 her partner, Everett Ottinger, joined her in operating the 33-acre spread. They began steadily increasing the infrastructure on the site, adding a caterpillar tunnel, barn, and high tunnels in the ensuing years. The pair focused on selling their produce directly to consumers through a CSA program and various farmers’ markets. Over the years they have narrowed their marketing efforts, now focusing on the Bangor Farmers’ Market, their CSA program, and a limited amount of wholesaling.

After more than a decade in Newburgh, Molly and Everett have grown their business, expanded their farm’s infrastructure, and started a family. At the same time, they have pursued another important goal: transitioning the farm away from fossil fuels to a reliance on clean energy. The couple committed to this plan for environmental and business sustainability. According to Everett, their guiding notion from the start was “generating clean power on-site, making loan payments to pay for the solar equipment - and eventually energy storage - instead of a power bill and putting gas in a car.”

A sign that says "Nettie Fox Farm" is leaned up against a tent pole and surrounded by bins of fall produce.
Nettie Fox Farm offers a 14-week CSA and sells at the Bangor Farmers' Market each Sunday in season.

To help realize this vision, Molly and Everett secured a REAP grant early in 2021. The grant covered $3000 of the overall $23,000 cost to install a 14Kw roof-mounted photovoltaic solar array on their barn (constructed of locally harvested native timber). With the balance financed through a loan from Five County Credit Union (a “really amazing” business ally they say), the farmers had their solar panels fully operational by the fall of 2021. With electricity prices rising steadily in recent years, the payback period for the project has shortened. “Environmentally, we try to give back more than we take, but this was also a good business decision and a win-win for the farm,” says Everett.

There is far more to the couple’s commitment clean energy than saving money and making the farm self-sufficient. Citing Wes Jackson, the recently retired co-founded of The Land Institute, the couple talk about the need to rethink sustainability. Says Everett, “It's one thing to reject a universal reliance on fossil fuels in principle, but to truly step away (collectively, anyway) is an unfathomably daunting prospect.”

Nettie Fox Farm continues to step away from reliance on fossil fuels in ways large and small. Prominent on the farm’s landscape is a carbon-neutral propagation greenhouse, heated via passive solar collection and electric resistant heat. Recently they converted from propane to energy-efficient induction for cooking in the farmhouse. They have purchased an electric car. Soon they plan to replace their traditional diesel tractor with an electric model. For the time being they are still tied to the grid, but once the panels are paid off, they plan to apply for a loan to scale up their system and to install a battery bank to allow them to disconnect from the grid and operate solely on solar power.

Where to find Nettie Fox Farm produce: The farm, located at 2348 Kennebec Rd. in Newburgh, is currently accepting signups for a 14-week vegetable CSA available to pick up in Newburgh and drop-off locations in Bangor. (Sign up online on the farm’s website: https://www.nettiefoxfarm.com/.) They attend the Bangor Farmers' Market (beginning in April or May) every Sunday from 11-1:30 on Harlow St. across from the Bangor Public Library. Select produce can be found seasonally at the Natural Living Center in Bangor.

Two women stand at a farmers' market stall with bins of produce in front of them and an open truck behind them.
Molly Crouse is pictured (l) with a fellow farmer at the Common Ground Country Fair. Nettie Fox Farm is certified organic by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) and participates in MOFGA's annual fall fair.


Obligation Amount:
Year(s) of Obligation:
Congressional District:
  • Maine: District 2