"Catch and store energy."
Our budget at Stony Run Farm hasn't been up to what often comes to mind with this principle, which is a set of solar panels. But we do in fact catch and store energy.
1. A 3X50' bed of potatoes stores a lot of solar energy in the form of a wheelbarrow full of spuds. We eat about two thirds over the winter and then plant the rest the following spring. Rotating beds seems to help reduce the risks associated with using your own spuds for seed. Ours are Yukon Golds, Reds, and German Butterball.
2. We do buy in some wood for each winter but also manage our own coppice and woodlot. This is another form of solar, similar in principle to the potatoes (photosynthesis). One warms you on the inside, the other on the outside. Splits, rounds and smallwood go in the woodpile, which faces the sun to season the wood. Leftover branches and twigs, such as the pine boughs shown, are treated as chop-and-drop mulch material, scattered around beneath fruit trees or incorporated into the garden beds. One heap of twiggy "waste" is left for a wildlife safe zone. Many of the trees in our rotation we planted ourselves. Saw used here is electric, and we buy 100% wind from our co-op.
3. We also use passive solar in the form of a used hot water heater with its jacket and insulation peeled back and painted black, resting on a pallet inside its own cold frame. It's tapped into the main line between the well and house, and serves as a pre-heater for the inside electric hot water heater, reducing costs half the year. In two decades it has never needed maintenance.
4. Homemade solar dryers consisting of no more than a plywood box with a window on it, with holes in the ends, have served us well, perhaps because we have had such low humidity (and getting lower! Gulp) in summer. More at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XnI6EPvpN28 and also https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suGgJZLqQOc