Canopy Solar Planned for Makepeace Canal

PLYMOUTH – The A.D. Makepeace Company and Renewable Energy Development Partners LLC are proposing a plan for solar panel canopies installed over some two miles of agricultural canal in a remote section of Plymouth.

The proposal, which is subject to review and approval by the Plymouth Inspectional Services Department, is part of a multifaceted renewable energy initiative which also includes floating solar on an agricultural reservoir, ground-mounted solar arrays and additional canal canopy arrays.

The project is proposed under the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) program. The SMART program encourages the development of new photovoltaic energy sources in a manner that is compatible with current and future agricultural practices. The canals are used for irrigation and bog flooding for harvest and pest management purposes, and will continue to be used as such after the solar canopies are installed.

“This is part of our ongoing effort to site innovative solar projects in areas with minimal impact on wildlife and our neighbors,” said James F. Kane, president and chief executive officer of the A.D. Makepeace Company. “In so doing, we are helping the Commonwealth make meaningful progress towards greenhouse gas reduction goals.”

Renewable Energy Development Partners submitted a proposal for the canal solar to the Town of Plymouth last week. The project will be the second canal canopy solar array that the A.D. Makepeace Company and REDP have partnered to construct.  The first project, roughly half the size of the proposed new project, is located nearby on a cranberry farm in Carver, MA and is expected to be operational by the end of the year.

“This project is an innovative approach to solar energy production that requires minimal land disturbance, creates an additional beneficial use of land already in agricultural use, and is fully compatible with the ongoing agricultural activities.   We hope it will be a model for similar types of projects done in partnership with other agricultural producers,” said Hank Ouimet, a managing partner at REDP.

The canopies require no tree cutting. The land is zoned for residential and agricultural uses.

Mr. Kane noted that the project site is zoned for residential development and Plymouth officials have long feared the prospect of having to provide municipal services to an area separated from the rest of the town by Myles Standish State Forest. In response, the company has explored options with minimal impact on services, such as agricultural and renewable energy uses.

The sites for the projects are in the area where the boundaries of Plymouth, Carver, and Wareham meet, all a mile or more from any publicly accessible roadway. The A.D. Makepeace Company has been growing cranberries there since the early 1900s.

Renewable Energy Development Partners is a boutique Massachusetts-based renewable energy project development firm specializing in innovative solar solutions. Visit for more information.

The 169-year-old A.D. Makepeace Company is developer of the award-winning Redbrook, North America’s largest cranberry grower, the largest private property owner in eastern Massachusetts, and a recognized leader in environmentally responsible real estate development and stewardship. Visit for more information.

It’s harvest season!

As the largest grower in North America, the A.D. Makepeace Company is the first to arrive at the Ocean Spray receiving station in mid-September, and the last to depart in early November.

And as the developer of Redbrook, the new village in south Plymouth, the company is able to offer a unique perk to residents only: pick your own cranberries.

“Anyone can go apple-picking or select your own pumpkin in the fall, but this is truly a one-of-a-kind opportunity,” said Daniel Gorczyca, vice president and Redbrook project executive for the A.D. Makepeace Company.

According to Jennifer Maynard, Redbrook’s director of resident services, some 700 Redbrook homeowners and renters were expected to participate in the pick-your-own event on September 23.

ADM harvests about 1,700 acres of bogs in Plymouth, Wareham, and Carver, and with the exception of that special Redbrook bog, all are wet harvested.

Here’s how wet harvest works: Cranberries contain pockets of air, and as a result, they can float in water. For the past 70 years or so, cranberry growers have taken advantage of this by flooding the bogs, then using picking machines to knock the berries off the vines. The berries then float to the surface of the flooded bog.

Plastic “booms” are used to round up the berries, which are then lifted by conveyor or pumped into a truck to take them to the receiving station in nearby Carver for cleaning.

From there, the fruit is sent to various processing plants. Wet harvested cranberries are used for juices, sauces, sweetened dried cranberries, or as ingredients in other processed foods. Dry harvested cranberries are found in bags in the produce aisle during the holiday season.

At this time of year, the growers are hoping for cool nights – needed to cause the berries to turn red – warm daytime temperatures, and a little rain. Hail, excessive rain or heat, and other weather extremes can damage the crop at this stage. Harvest activities are typically put on hold during very windy conditions.

For those not fortunate enough to live at Redbrook, the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association offers cranberry bog tours showcasing the native red berry. Information about public tours is available on their website,

They also offer self-guided tours. On the CCCGA website, click “Visit a Bog” and you’ll find an interactive map of growers in the region that welcomes visitors to their property. Most growers don’t mind if you pull over to the side of the road to take photos of the picturesque harvest. Just please remember that it’s a working farm and you need to stay clear of truck traffic, hoses, and other potential hazards.