This Previous Barn: A 150-Yr-Previous Egg Harbor Farm Goes Solar


The larger of the two barns now has solar panels on the roof that provide electricity to the entire property. Submitted.

Four years ago David and Barb (fisherman) Heilman received a wonderful gift in the form of a small family farm that had been in Barb’s family since 1873.

“Survived all the wars and struggles of the peasants since the civil war,” she said, “this property has remained intact. With this gift,” treasures “have been collected for 150 years – rundown buildings, overgrown trees, heaps of earth, rocks, tree trunks and other” treasures ” Fortunately, the rented farmland has been beautifully tended by a farming neighbor. The farm buildings and the land they are on have not developed as well, and there are no longer working tractors or other equipment to help clean up . “

Even so, that didn’t deter the Heilmans, who set about reclaiming and restoring the buildings and land, despite recommendations from others to demolish the buildings and start over.

“Most of the time we do this for the next generation who have the skills and commitment to run a sustainable organic farm, but the buildings, as well as our time and skills, needed to restore them,” Heilman said.

The plan is to finally hand the farm over to the next generation – their daughter Yvonne – and bring the farm back to life. Barb’s predecessors were dairy farmers and raised crops, but she and her husband had different careers. Fortunately, they acquired some construction acumen and were able to manage most of the updates themselves.

A before and after comparison of the smaller barn. Submitted.

“In addition to initially replacing rotting solid timbers, replacing the roofs, installing the solar system, and other tasks that require skilled labor, my husband and I did most of the work ourselves,” Heilman said.

The solar panel system installed on the roof of the larger barn was of course a new addition to the yard and an easy choice.

Heilman said, “Our electricity bill was pretty high: $ 225 plus a month.
During the house renovation, we decided to put in electric baseboards – it’s an old log house. “Knowing that this would only increase their electricity bills, they investigated the possibility of using solar.

“We like to be aware of our uses – that’s exactly how we fly,” said Heilman, “and the sun was a breeze after exploring it.”

Now, for most of the months of the year, they will see a bill with a credit of $ 10, and for the months of higher usage, the bill is no more than about $ 15 per month. After the government reimbursed the cost of the solar panels, Heilman reported that the investment should pay for itself in about 10 years.

The new color of the barns – a color called “prairie wheat” – Heilman said it was a tribute to her mother Hazel Fischer, who was originally from Kansas and who chose the color for the farmhouse.

Do you have or know a barn that you need to submit for review? Email Aleah at [email protected]I use the subject line “barn”.

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