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American Farmland Trust Welcomes Ethan Winter as Northeast Solar Specialist. 

A role that will elevate AFT’s climate efforts and protect valuable farmland.  

Northampton, MA– American Farmland Trust, the organization behind the national movement No Farms No Food®, welcomes Ethan Winter as the Northeast Solar Specialist. In this role, Winter will work across regional and national programs to help set and implement AFTs strategy for solar energy generation and farmland conservation. Winter joins AFT with an extensive background in solar development throughout the Northeast. This role will support AFT’s mission to save the land that sustains by working at the nexus of solar development and farmland conservation – finding innovative and productive ways forward that protects the region’s best farmland, while also helping to advance clean energy.  

“Ethan joins us at a pivotal time,” said Nathan L’Etoile, AFT’s New England Regional Director. “Many of us in the conservation community want to do more than just say NO. We are digging in deeply on this issue, putting forth solutions that help protect our best farmland, while also advancing clean energy solutions.” 

Winter brings a background in program development, natural climate solutions, and conservation practices, having led the Land Trust Alliance’s flagship New York Program for 13 years. During his time with the Land Trust Alliance, Winter was able to expand the statewide network of land trusts, advise on climate mitigation and adaptation initiatives and develop policy recommendations for accelerating clean energy development. Following this, Winter worked as Project Developer and Senior Community Engagement Manager for Cypress Creek Renewables, an integrated solar and storage company with a 1.6 GW solar fleet spanning 14 states. In this role, Winter led a community outreach strategy and helped to secure zoning approvals for a $100 million+ portfolio of community distributed generation (2-5 MWac) solar projects in New York and Massachusetts. Winter earned a Master of Forestry at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and attended Bowdoin College. Winter also serves on the City of Saratoga Springs Climate Smart Task Force and on the board of the Adirondack Council. 

“I’m so excited to be joining American Farmland Trust in this new role at the intersection of solar development, climate policy, and agricultural resource protection,” Ethan Winter said.  “I look forward to building on AFT’s regional leadership in advancing smart solar siting strategies and cross-sector engagement to develop best practices for regenerative land management on solar projects.  Solar is essential to meeting state and national clean energy goals; at the same time, we can and should develop solar in ways that preserve and enhance farmland, empower farmers, and ensure the long-term viability of agriculture in the Northeast.”   

As Northeast Solar Specialist, Winter will focus primarily on New England, New York/New Jersey, and the Mid-Atlantic regions, leading AFT’s response to the challenges and opportunities presented by rapid solar development. This is the first solar-specific role at AFT and will support the continued expansion of smart solar work as a means of economic opportunities for agricultural producers through dual-use or other means.   

“I am thrilled to have Ethan join our team as AFT’s first solar specialist,” said Emily Cole, AFT’s New England Deputy Director. “His extensive experience in both the conservation and clean energy worlds will help expand AFT’s work on smart solar siting, including building upon the momentum from the Smart Solar Siting for New England Partnership Project.” 

Winter will be working across three AFT offices, addressing key challenges in each of those areas.  

“The Mid-Atlantic is on the cusp of a solar energy boom,” said Jamie Mierau, AFT’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Director. “It’s important that we get it right and help shape the impending wave of solar, so it happens quickly and in a way that supports farm viability and protects our most productive and resilient farmland and forest land. We are thrilled to have Ethan join us as we grow our work on solar in the region.” 

“Ethan Winter has long been an ally and a champion for farmland conservation and climate mitigation in New York,” said Erica Goodman, AFT’s New York Regional Director. “We are thrilled to have his expertise supporting AFT’s work at this important intersection of keeping the region’s best farmland available for food production and climate benefits while diversifying farm income and generating clean energy.” 

Winter will be based out of his remote office in Saratoga Springs, NY, and will travel between the three Northeast regional offices.  

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American Farmland Trust is the only national organization that takes a holistic approach to agriculture, focusing on the land itself, the agricultural practices used on that land, and the farmers and ranchers who do the work. AFT launched the conservation agriculture movement and continues to raise public awareness through our No Farms, No Food message. Since our founding in 1980, AFT has helped permanently protect over 6.5 million acres of agricultural lands, advanced environmentally sound farming practices on a half-million additional acres, and supported thousands of farm families.

About the Author
Emeran Irby

New England Communication & Outreach Coordinator

eirby@farmland.org

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