Indiana High Tunnel Initiative: Developing Extension-Farmer Partnerships for Education

2009 Annual Report for ENC08-106

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2008: $74,981.68
Projected End Date: 12/31/2011
Region: North Central
State: Indiana
Project Coordinator:
Amy Thompson
Purdue Extension

Indiana High Tunnel Initiative: Developing Extension-Farmer Partnerships for Education


The target audience for this project includes Purdue Extension Educators and other agency personnel who work with producers who are either currently involved in or considering adoption of high tunnel production systems.

Objectives/Performance Targets

Short-term outcomes for the project include:
– increased Educator awareness and knowledge of high tunnel production opportunities and limitations, increased Educator and producer collaborative teaching events and resource development.

Intermediate outcomes include:
– increased collaboration between Educators and producers on educational programs
– increased number of programs, field days, publications and newsletter articles about high tunnels developed and presented
– increased Educator skills in guiding producers through decisions about high tunnel production.


  1. A project orientation and kick off session held to encourage teamwork and relationship building.

    An initial evaluation of Extension Educator knowledge and awareness of high tunnel production was completed.

    Core team educators shadowed core team producers at various locations across Indiana from March 2009 through December.

    Educational presentations were given at Purdue Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Educator annual training in October 2009, at Extension Area meetings and the Illiana Vegetable School in January 2010.

    3 core team Producers shared their High Tunnel growing experience as part of a High Tunnel Production session at the Indiana Horticultural Congress in January 2011.

    Data collected during the is being complied and plans for Case Study publications/resources based on the data being discussed and developed. An Indiana High Tunnel blog continues to be developed.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

Data from an initial evaluation of knowledge and awareness of high tunnel production practices and growers by Purdue University Extension Educators revealed an opportunity for increased professional development. Of those Educators responding to an survey asking them to rate their knowledge level of high tunnel production including irrigation, plant nutrition, variety, selection, scheduling, design, site selection and pest management eighty-two percent rated themselves as a complete novice or a beginning. Response their knowledge level about economic factors in high tunnel production such as budgeting, construction costs, labor requirements, sales marketing and profitability 94% indicated they were either complete novice or beginner.

Core team Educators spent March 09 – December 09 shadowing current high tunnel growers on their farms to gain knowledge and understanding of high tunnel production practices. Educators across the state have gained knowledge of awareness through educational presentations including the Purdue Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Educators annual training high tunnel presentation the 2010 Indiana Horticultural Congress and through the Illiana Vegetable Growers school.

The number of participants at these presentations were as follows:
• Purdue ANR Extension Educator training – 50 educators,
• Indiana Horticultural congress
o Producer panel (3 grant team member producers) – 55 attendees including 8 Extension Educators
o Wish lists for your next high tunnel- 54 attendees including 8 Extension Educators
o Small fruits for high tunnel production – 33 attendees including 5 Extension Educators
o Clarifying rules for high tunnel pesticides applications – 52 attendees including 4 Extension Educators
o Creating a fertility management program for your high tunnel – 43 attendees include 6 Extension Educators
o Options for 12 months of production – 58 attendees including 8 Extension Educators.
• Illiana Vegetable Growers school – 65 attendees including 9 Extension Educators.

For the second year of this 3 year professional development grant Educator-Producer teams continue to work together to develop field days, and Indiana specific high tunnel resources. They are collaborating on the planning and delivery of field days across the state and planning to travel to attend educational programs.


Mark Kepler

[email protected]
Extension Educator
Purdue University
1009 W. Third Street
Rochester, IN 46975
Office Phone: 5742233397
Kevin Cooley

[email protected]
Cooley Family Farm
24 N 900 E.
Lafayette, IN 47905
Office Phone: 7652968834
Jeannie Scheeringa

Scheeringa's Farms and Greenhouses
9436 Cline Ave
Griffith, IN 46319
Office Phone: 2198386369
Albert Armand

Harper Valley Farms
13094 S. Co. Rd. 600 West
Westport, IN 47283
Office Phone: 8125913416
Liz Maynard

[email protected]
Extension specialist
Purdue University
1401 US Highway 421
Westville, IN 46391
Office Phone: 2197855673
Dan Wilson

[email protected]
Extension Educator
Purdue University
545 S. 200 W.
Greensburg, IN 47420
Office Phone: 8126638388
Linda Chapman

[email protected]
Harvest Moon Flower Farm
3592 Harvest Moon Lane
Spencer, IN 47460
Office Phone: 8128293517
Jeff Phillips

[email protected]
Extension Educator
Purdue University
3150 Sagamore Parkway South
Lafayette, IN 47905
Office Phone: 7654740793
Stacy Herr

[email protected]
Extension Educator
Purdue University
401 East Main St.
Richmond, IN 47374
Office Phone: 7659739281
J. Alvin Stoltzfus

9445 Middle Road
Fountain City, IN 47431
Office Phone: 7658475009
Roy Ballard

[email protected]
Extension Educator
Purdue University
802 N. Apple St.
Greenfield, IN 46140
Office Phone: 3174621113
Titus Oberholtzer

20435 Michigan Rd
Argos, IN 46501