By Lou Haveman
Growing up on a farm helps one have an appreciation of nature. We never had a lot but we had an abundance of healthy, home grown vegetables, butchered our meat, and raised our own eggs and poultry, cut our own firewood to heat our home. Mom canned and later froze our produce. We had a fruit cellar for the potatoes. Carrots we dug out of the snow covered ground. We would purchase apples by the bushel and make jars and jars of apple sauce. We did not know much about environmental issues and never heard about climate change.
We were ignorant. The icicles hanging from our kitchen roof I thought were beautiful and never considered adding to the four inches of insulation in the attic. We hauled our few throw-away aluminum cans to a dry creek bed in the back forty. Our drain field, it turned out to my surprise, was the country drainage ditch from which our cows drank. We swam in the larger creek a half mile from our home. We were poor and had no money for herbicides. What pollution we caused was easily covered by the hospitality of nature.
College came and went. I became aware of the word ecology. After living in Africa for 16 years we returned to Michigan where I had found a job selling and later installing Blackberry Solar Systems for heat. It made economic sense…barely…because of the Michigan solar tax credit in the early 1980s. Gas became expensive.
Living in Africa and working in agriculture community development I had learned what it means to live simply, living in balance with nature, and being abundantly careful with the limited resources poor people have. It became a motivating factor of my life.
I purchased a large solar water heating system for a multiple rental unit we owned. Every home we lived in I established a flourishing garden. We recycled everything. We sought ways to be energy efficient. In 2013 Jan and I visited an organization called New Vision Renewable Energy in West Virginia. I saw how one could build a hydroponic garden raising vegetables where recycled water from a small fish pond became the nutrient basis for the vegetables. It was powered by solar. We sell hundreds of small solar telephone chargers and light all over the world through our small international business (www.businessconnectworld.com).
I had to take the next step, a big one, and expensive. I calculated what it would cost to provide 100% of our power off solar. The system would cost me over $40,000.00.
Learn what steps Lou took when he learned what installing a solar system would cost him – and whether this challenge altered his commitment to Creation Care. Watch for part two of the story Friday and accompanying video.