A Solar Panel Sandwich

Published 9:01 am Wednesday, March 3, 2021

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For many, many decades a southwestern drive on State Highway 97 from Bainbridge to the Florida line, during this time of the year, would bring the sight of hundreds of acres of black plastic in rows. As soon as the weather was safe for planting, tomatoes by the hundreds of acres would be planted onto the black plastic rows and, soon, wooden stakes that look like what I remember as tobacco sticks would be driven into the plastic to be supportive of each tomato plant.

All of this activity would happen just past the village of Faceville and continue along Highway 97 for five or six miles. The soil of those farms must have been very conducive for tomatoes and, as I would drive towards Panama City Beach, I would experience the entire season of tomato growing from beginning to end. Driving carefully, I could not help but look at the different kinds of tomatoes on the vines.

Some would be the small variety called Cherry tomatoes. Some would be Roma tomatoes, but my favorite would be the Beefsteak variety from which I would make the great and delicious tomato sandwich.

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This year, though, a great change has occurred in all those hundreds of acres. There may be some portion of the land that will have a tomato vine on it, but I didn’t see it as of last week. Instead of rows of tomatoes, the acres have been planted in another kind of crop.

Thousands of metal stands have been planted on the fertile acres of southwestern Decatur County and atop the metal stands will be placed rectangular solar panels. The tomato farms of yesterday have been transformed into the sun farms of the future.

The harvest will not be a seasonal fruit or vegetable that can be eaten, but, instead, the harvest hopefully will be a year-round plentiful crop of sunshine, which will be transferred to an electrical grid and, ultimately used to turn on the lights. I guess that’s what they call progress, but I’m not sure I will like a BLSP as well as I enjoy a BLT.

A BLT is an easily recognized acronym for a Bacon. Lettuce, and Tomato sandwich, which in my honest and accurate opinion is one of the best sandwiches of all time. Not the GOAT (Greatest of All Time), but the BLT is certainly Top Ten. Somehow, a BLSP, a bacon, lettuce, and solar panel sandwich is not going to rank too high on my list.

I guess sun farms are part of the Green New Deal. Some of us have to be dragged into the future. I’m a farm boy from the old days and my eyes are satisfied, to a greater extent, by rows of tomato vines, sweet corn, and peanuts rather than rows of solar panels. Sorry, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez.

But, don’t cry for me, Argentina, I’ll come around soon. Why, I’m thinking today of putting up a windmill in my front yard and attaching a turbine to the tall pine tree in my backyard. I’ll catch the wind coming and going. Hopefully, we won’t have a deep freeze like Texas and the windmill and turbine will help me with my Georgia Power bill.

Shoot, I may even get an electric car, but where are the charging stations? I know what I’ll do. I have an extension cord and I’ll just plug that extension cord into my backyard turbine that’s hay-wired to my tall pine tree and build up my car battery that way. Where there is a will there is a way.

I also may learn to like solar panel sandwiches on white bread with plenty of mayo. Who needs tomatoes!