Merced County farmers, others embrace renewables

Carol Reiter of the Merced Sun-Star has been busy the last few days writing stories about renewable energy and conservation. First, there was the piece on Hilltop Ranch in Ballico, where owners Dave and Christine Long invested in a solar power system.

The solar panels will replace 78% of the electrical needs at the ranch, which is equivalent to removing 258 vehicles off the road for 25 years. In return, the Longs will get a grant from the U.S. Treasury to cover 30% of the cost of the system.

Today, Reiter reported on a self-guided "green tour" of homes made of recycled products and a native-species garden. She talked to a Livingston man named John Mitchell, whose home is framed of wood from an old Methodist church. He bought the church for $1 and tore it down himself.

Mitchell's brick patio is paved with bricks from an old raisin-drying facility. His front door came from a chicken house.