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How Does Your Garden Grow?

How Does Your Garden Grow?
Fortunat Mueller, co-owner of ReVision Energy, tells us about the solar water pumping system they recently installed in a beautiful community garden.
written by Danielle Auger Shaughnessey

Fortunat Mueller, co-owner of ReVision Energy in Portland, Maine, has been an altE Direct customer for many years. Recently, ReVision Energy helped out with the installation of a solar water pumping system in a community garden in Brunswick, ME. Fortunat recently shared with me the details on this touching story and how renewable energy has strengthened a community.

There is no typical day in the life of a small-business owner. ReVision Energy designs and installs residential and commercial solar projects. Fortunat is busy in all areas of his business, overseeing engineering, system design, and sales. He provides leadership to those around him. He enjoys helping other people at ReVision to be effective in their own job. "That can involve something as simple as answering a technical question, or coaching a project manager through dealing with a challenging sub contractor or client," Fortunat explains. "But most often, I think it is about working with all my awesome colleagues at ReVision to create and maintain a company culture that values and respects hard work, intelligence, and cooperative problem solving. That's what I really like to do."

It's no surprise that when Fortunat was approached by ReVision customer Tom Settlemire to discuss the possibility of installing a solar water pumping system at a community garden, Fortunat was thrilled to help out. The Tom Settlemire Community Garden was created two years ago by the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust. Tom Settlemire was president and the garden was named in his honor. Not only does the garden have 73 individual plots available for purchase, but it also has 500 square feet of space designated for use by the Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program and numerous other non-profits.

This remote garden is far from any power lines and a gasoline generator was being used to power a water pump from a nearby well to irrigate the plots. Fortunat explains that the generator was unreliable, noisy, and smelly. It was a poor fit for the beautiful, serene community garden. "Tom explained the history of the community garden," Fortunat says. "When he said he hoped to eliminate the gas generator and replace it with a solar water pump, it sounded like a great project. I told him Revision Energy would be delighted to help however we could."

Fortunat says that while they occasionally take off-grid clients, their PV business is mostly grid-tied applications. He had no personal experience with this type of solar water pumping system. Fortunat contacted Ben Farmer at altE, knowing that they carry a wide range of solar products and the expertise to help with selecting the right system. "I think this is where altE really stands out from most suppliers," He explains. "Their staff really knows the products and is able and willing to help out with technical and installation questions where needed." Fortunat purchased a system consisting of a Sun Pumps SDS Series Submersible Pump and a Sun Pumps Controller. A Sun Tech Power 85 Watt Monocrystalline Solar Panel is mounted on an IronRidge Side of Pole Mount. Ben even included an additional discount when he learned about the good that this project was bringing to the community. ReVision donated all of the parts and labor for the garden. "Between altE's generosity and our own donation of parts and labor, we were able to install the system for a small fraction of the total cost," Fortunat says.

According to Fortunat, installation was a breeze. Tom Settlemire led a group of community volunteers and set the pole for the solar panels. Fortunat and four others from ReVision donated their time to install the rest of the system. They worked hard trenching and had to do some core drilling into the well casing, but the install went smoothly. "The system worked perfectly right out of the box." Fortunat says.

Thanks to renewable energy and a strong community, this wonderful garden has a clean and efficient solar water pumping system!

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