Greenhouse Canada

Features High Tunnels Structures & Equipment
USDA launching major hoop house study


Jan. 13, 2010, Washington – Agriculture Deputy Secretary
Kathleen Merrigan has announced a new pilot project under the “Know Your
Farmer, Know Your Food” initiative for farmers to establish high tunnels – also
known as hoop houses – to increase the availability of locally grown produce in
a conservation-friendly way.

Jan. 13, 2010, Washington – Agriculture Deputy Secretary
Kathleen Merrigan has announced a new pilot project under the “Know Your
Farmer, Know Your Food” initiative for farmers to establish high tunnels – also
known as hoop houses – to increase the availability of locally grown produce in
a conservation-friendly way.


Merrigan and other Obama administration officials highlighted
opportunities available for producers in a video posted on USDA’s YouTube
channel at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07vtMJgp0no, which shows high tunnels
recently installed in the White House garden.

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“There is great potential for high tunnels to expand the
availability of healthy, locally-grown crops – a win for producers and
consumers,” said Merrigan. “This pilot project is going to give us real-world information
that farmers all over the country can use to decide if they want to add high
tunnels to their operations. We know that these fixtures can help producers
extend their growing season and hopefully add to their bottom line.”


The three-year, 38-state study will verify if high tunnels are
effective in reducing pesticide use, keeping vital nutrients in the soil,
extending the growing season, increasing yields, and providing other benefits
to growers.


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 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 five per cent of one acre.