August 22, 2022 • ISSUE 636

Emily Mauntel Raises Sheep Under MIU Solar Array

For the past several months, a small flock of Dorper sheep has been grazing under the MIU MEG’Array west of campus. The solar array, installed by Ideal Energy in 2018, provides a shaded, fenced-in enclosure, perfect for Emily Mauntel’s first flock of her own.
Emily graduated from MIU in 2020 with a BS in regenerative organic agriculture. She has worked on several farms in Oregon, Virginia, Missouri, and South Carolina tending sheep and cattle. Last winter she returned to Fairfield and has been working on the MIU Student Farm.
“I saw these large solar arrays around the country and realized we have something here in Fairfield,” she said. Emily contacted Tom Brooks, vice president of operations, with her idea to put a flock under the solar array. She then partnered with Robert Barker in nearby Keosauqua, who bought the sheep and gave Emily thirty head to graze. Since May the flock has grown to 35, with several ewes pregnant.

Sheep grazing under the solar panels

“Sheep are my favorite livestock,” said Emily. “They are easy to manage and they don’t damage the solar panels.” The sheep have enough grass to eat on the five-acre lot, and all Emily has to provide is water, which she delivers with a water truck twice a week.
“We are very pleased with the results of this summer grazing project,” said Tom Brooks. “Emily is very knowledgeable and the sheep eliminated a tough mowing job. This is certainly a low carbon sustainable alternative to mowing 4-5 times a year.”

The flock now has five new lambs