PLANET GARDEN: Eco-Friendly Resource Guide

Planet Garden Perpetual Growing Season Courtesy of USDA

Posted in Sustainable Column by planetgarden on February 2, 2010

Courtesy of the USDA Every Georgia Farmer Will Receive 1 High Tunnel for a Perpetual Growing Season.   Here is the news release from USDA announced this month.
THE USDA-NATURAL RESOURCES CONSERVATION SERVICE (NRCS) HAS LAUNCHED A HIGH TUNNEL PILOT STUDY TO INCREASE AVAILABILITY OF LOCALLY GROWN FOODS IN GEORGIA.
In Athens, Georgia, James E. Tillman, Sr., State Conservationist for the USDA-Natural
Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Georgia announced on January 7, 2010 that Georgia is one of 38 states selected to participate in a project to evaluate effectiveness of high tunnels in natural resource conservation.”
Bluebird CSA share holders experienced first hand that high tunnels work. This week share boxes included artisan lettuces that are certified organic and survived the hard freeze in January 2010 safe in the high tunnel at D & A Farm.
“Part of the “Know Your Farmer; Know Your Food” initiative, the high tunnel project will establish high tunnels to increase the availability of locally grown produce in a conservation-friendly way.
The 3-year study will verify if high tunnels – also known as hoop houses – are effective in
reducing pesticide use, keeping vital nutrients in the soil, extending the growing season,
increasing yields, and providing other benefits to growers. “I am excited that Georgia was
selected to participate in this study,” James Tillman said.
Dave Bentoski of D & A Farm in Zebulon” and one of the participating Multiple Farms in the Bluebird CSA program “is a firm believer in high tunnels. “There’s no doubt
it’s a good production technique. For professional growers, they’re incredible,” he said. He has one high tunnel that is 3 years old and has recently constructed two new ones. “We use them for season extension. “We grew tomatoes in there that we planted at the end of July; in 2,000 ft of growing space, we harvested 1,500 lbs. of tomatoes. We had tomatoes in the market well after our peers,” he said.
Made of ribs of plastic or metal pipe covered with a layer of plastic sheeting, high tunnels are
easy to build, maintain and move. High tunnels are used year-round in warmer parts of the country, providing steady incomes to farmers – a significant advantage to owners of small farms, limited-resource farmers and organic producers.
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will provide financial assistance for the project through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the EQIP Organic Initiative, and the Agricultural Management Assistance program.
NRCS will fund one high tunnel per farm. High tunnels in the study can cover as much as 5 percent of 1 acre.
Participating states and territories are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Connecticut,
Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Pacific Islands, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.”
To sign up or learn more about the project, contact your local NRCS office. Or email: mary.mcquinn@ga.usda.gov or bluebirdmarket@gmail.com for more information. Find out more about the project or sign up for a Bluebird CSA share box at http://bluebirdmarket.com. Every family needs a farmer. Do you know yours?

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