We have built a 30 x 96 cold frame to grow tomatoes and vegetables. The project is to see how early in the spring and how late we can grow in the winter months. As of the end of November we still have carrots, lettuce, spinach, radish, beets, and have planted more lettuce and it is growing.
Before receiving this grant we were involved in a clean water project thru the Kansas Rural Center. We planted 8 acres of eastern gamma grass and are in the third year on this project.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION AND RESULTS
Our goals in this project was to build and operate a cold frame, for the extension of the growing season and to be able to supple lettuce and spinach to Prairie Land Coop and the restaurants in Salina during off season.
We joined the Kansas Vegetables Growers Association and went on several tours of cold frames and hoop houses. Attended seminars by Allison and Paul Wiediger. We did a lot of reading and visited and worked with extension agents, other growers and sales representatives. We decided on this size so we could open the ends and use a small tractor to work the soil. Post went into concrete to better stabilize the building, we went east and west with our building, to hopefully utilize the sun on the long rows of vegetables. We installed roll up sides for better ventilation, and made the side walls 4 feet high for better access to the edges and so the tractor could get closer to the edge.
We worked very closely with extension Todd Whitney the Cloud County extension agent. He helped with different aspects of the cold frame and helped with the writing of the grant. He also organized the press releases and helped organize the tour and gave us radio and newspaper coverage. Ted Carry head of the Kansas State university cold frame experiment station at Olatha, Kansas. We visited his cold frame project and he also spent time at our farm.
We learned how to research this type of operation and the professional and leaders in this field that are of great help in completing and constructing a large project. This project has increased our cash flow in to the fall and people are grateful to be able to purchase fresh green raised naturally. The advantages in the cold frame are, that we can control inside environment. We would recommend the cold frame and would be willing to recommend construction, side and end details that make the cold frame more adequate. I would tell other producers that it is beneficial to apply for a grant and the results.
This cold frame will be a great supplemental income for a small farm such as ours. We hope to be able to have an income from this cold frame year round. We sell our produce to Prairie Land Coop in Salina with the average of $275 per month at this time. This will increase with time when we find out what people want and what will grow best in our cold frame.
The method we used in telling others was, the radio, with extension programs, email and internet. We communicated with the public thru programs that were related to vegetable growers and at the farmers markets in Salina and Concordia. We had very good turn out at our tour, with people coming form as far as Kansas City on the east and Hays from the west. People were very interested in the roll up sides and end construction that I had designed and Ted Carrey is going to use it at the research farm. They were also interested in the varieties and the spacing of the vegetables. As I said before I would be glad to share any information with vegetable growers and producers at meetings and seminars.
My recommendation would be that the coordinator would be able to make 2 or 3 farm visits instead of one, to help the producer with their grant projects. I learned a lot from him in the 2 hours that he spent with me, that would have been beneficial at the start of this project.