ASGA Call #60 Replay: Is It Time for Solar Wool? A Practical Conversation on Wool Production at Solar Sites (Part 1)
How viable is grazing wool sheep on solar sites? Does wool production have the potential to help make grazing more economically sustainable? What are potential benefits and challenges to implementation?
For our November 2022 call, ASGA Board Member Nick Armentrout led a discussion on what’s happening with wool at some solar sites and the potential for solar wool products. He was joined by Collin Kennedy, a third-generation sheep shearer who is interested in exploring solar grazing with wool sheep, and Ryan Indart, a fourth generation farmer, sheepman and solar grazier raising wool sheep. Collin and Ryan both talked about their experiences, what they’re doing with wool and fiber, how its fits with their production, and where they see this industry potentially going.
This webinar is the first of a series focused on the potential for solar-wool production. The follow up webinar in April 2023 will take up the question of existing and potential future markets for solar wool.
Nick put together an excellent list of wool resources that he shared on the call. You can find them here:
About the Speakers
Nick Armentrout has a professional background in small business and supply chain administration, sales, land and livestock management. Over the course of his career, Nick has managed four businesses for others, and two of his own, throughout start-up phase to maturity. A recent highlight was 11 years sourcing and supplying domestic wool for the commission manufacture of 100% American grown and sewn, knit and woven wool clothing fabrics, as well as goods certified to the Global Organic Textile Standard – GOTS, and Cradle to Cradle Certified™ for the U.S. clothing company Ramblers Way Farm, Inc.
Nick has spent most of his adult years somehow engaged with animal agriculture and organic farming. Initially ranching in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, he returned home to Maine to start Spring Creek Farm with his wife, Sarah, in 1998. Nick manages all operations of the farm – a horse, sheep, grain, and hay business that also serves as the host facility for Carlisle Equestrian Academy.
Collin Kennedy is a sheep producer and a 3rd generation sheep shearer from central Indiana. His grandfather learned to shear in the FFA and passed the trade down to his sons and grandsons. Collin has sheared for 15 years and currently shears 12,000 head of sheep and over 50,000 pounds of wool annually in Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio.
Collin has been married for 12 years to his high school sweetheart, Ashley. They have 5 children who are great sheep herders and love working on the farm. He raises Rambouillet, Suffolk and Southdown sheep and plans on continuing the Kennedy shearing tradition by passing down the skill to his children.
With the growth of solar grazing there is an opportunity for wool sheep to make a resurgence in the US. Collin hopes to not only participate in grazing utility scale solar with wool sheep, but also help other producers with the training of new shearers. Finding quality shearers is a huge problem facing US producers, but there is an opportunity for solar graziers to work together to solve this problem.
Ryan Indart is a Fourth Generation Sheep Rancher in Fresno County CA. In 2009 Ryan purchased the sheep ranching enterprise from the family business and started The Indart Group, Inc., which is engaged in sheep ranching, direct marketing of lamb, dry land farming, custom sheep grazing services specializing in large utility scale solar projects and custom farm work. He currently grazes around 3,500 Targhee X Finn sheep, and shears over 30,000 pounds of wool that is warehoused and sold through Roswell Wool. Along with sheep ranching, Ryan and his family also farm cherries, oranges, almonds, and dry land wheat and barley in Fresno County and on the family ranch in Clovis, CA.
Ryan is extremely proud and honored to have the opportunity to continue the Indart Family name in the sheep industry today. Ryan is an active and involved leader in many aspects of the Sheep Industry. He is a past president of and current Board member of the California Wool Growers Association and Western Range Association. He is a Board member of the National Lamb Feeders Association. He is the past Chair and Board member of The Clovis Chamber of Commerce. He is the current VP of The Fresno County Farm Bureau and sits on the District 8 Liaison Committee for Blue Diamond Growers. Ryan is happily married to his wife Beatriz and they have four daughters: Lucia 14 years old, Cecilia 12 years old, Maggie 10 years old, and Anna Marie 6 years old.