Lance and Jennifer dedicate their lives to using the sun and promoting its usefulness. Jennifer is founder and executive director of EORenew, a nonprofit organization that coordinates the annual SolWest Renewable Energy Fair in John Day and provides ongoing energy education in eastern Oregon. Lance designs and installs solar-electric systems for both on- and off-grid clients. A large and enjoyable part of his business is building small stand-alone PV power and control systems for fish screens. The solar-powered DC motors clean debris off the screens, which keep fish from entering stream-fed irrigation ditches.
As much as possible, Lance and Jennifer work from their home office and workshop, which allows them to keep their life centered on developing their self-sufficient homestead and reduces their reliance on fossil fuels for transportation. Lots of time at home enables them to use the sun’s energy for more than just generating electricity for the household, pumping water, and growing their food. Jennifer is somewhat of a solar cooking guru, after years of solar cooking, teaching workshops, and publishing two cookbooks. Lance is just learning how to cook with the sun. “I find solar cooking is easier for inattentive cooks like me,” he says, “because if the cooker is neglected, the sun goes by, and the dish cools down, instead of burning as it would on a conventional stove.”
The sun also provides energy for another important part of the Barkers’ life—restoring the second-growth pine forests on their property to an old-growth ponderosa pine plant community. The Oregon Tree Farm System named them “Oregon Tree Farmer of the Year” in 2000, and the governor of Oregon cited their restoration project as one of Oregon’s best examples of sustainable forestry.