'Full-Tilth' Family Goes Solar

How Park Guthrie and his family went solar not only as a smart environmental and energy-saving decision, but also as a way to live in tune with their organic gardening nonprofit's core commitments.

Almost immediately after buying their home, Park and Kristan Guthrie took advantage of the solar tax incentive program in California — not only as a smart environmental and energy-saving decision, but also as a way to live in tune with their values.

Park works at the Life Learning Academy, a charter high school where he teaches sustainable gardening to at-risk kids. He is also launching Urban Tilth, a nonprofit dedicated to teaching people how to improve their environment by using organic gardening techniques. The Guthries are a quintessential nature family, making their home on a rural plot of land within the city limits of San Pablo, California. Climbers and surfers, they are parents of two children with a third on the way.

Park and Kristan had visited the Solar Living Center several times to become educated in sustainable living options. Between the reputation of Gaiam Real Goods and their experience at the eco-built, solar-powered headquarters of both the SLC and Gaiam Real Goods, they trusted the job would go smoothly. They were indeed pleased with the install, which Park says was “no effort on our part at all.”

The original design was modified mid-process to prevent cutting old growth walnut trees. “After one was cut we couldn’t bear to see another go. Gaiam Real Goods quickly reconfigured the racking system and it turned out to be more efficient overall.”

The family is delighted with their new solar system. “It’s thrilling to see the electric meter spinning backwards,” says Park, “and fun for the kids to see the sun’s energy harnessed on our own property.”

Tech Specs: Guthrie Home Solar Electric System
System size   

2.2 kW

PV panels   

16 Sharp 170 watt modules


1 Xantrex 3000 watt inverters

Est. energy production

3,611 kWh/year     

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