Beyond Season Extension: High Tunnels for Season Creation and Economic, Community, and Environmental Sustainability

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2012: $75,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2014
Region: North Central
State: Ohio
Project Coordinator:
Tom Redfern
Rural Action

Annual Reports

Information Products


  • Vegetables: asparagus, beans, beets, carrots, cauliflower, cucurbits, eggplant, garlic, greens (leafy), leeks, onions, parsnips, peas (culinary), peppers, radishes (culinary), rutabagas, tomatoes, turnips
  • Additional Plants: herbs
  • Miscellaneous: mushrooms


  • Crop Production: continuous cropping, intercropping, multiple cropping, organic fertilizers
  • Education and Training: demonstration, display, farmer to farmer, mentoring, networking, workshop, youth education, technical assistance
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, community-supported agriculture, marketing management, farm-to-institution, agricultural finance
  • Pest Management: cultural control, prevention, sanitation
  • Production Systems: transitioning to organic
  • Soil Management: organic matter
  • Sustainable Communities: infrastructure analysis, local and regional food systems, partnerships, public participation, employment opportunities, social capital, social networks

    Proposal abstract:

    Rural Action (RA) will partner with Green Edge Organic Gardens (GEOG) and other partners to train agricultural professionals on season extension, growing, and marketing techniques developed by GEOG over a twenty-seven-year period. Over 24 months, outputs will include 8 seasonally specific workshops and supporting written materials on introductory and advanced techniques, which move to a level of “season creation” that allows for stable employment, income, and production. These workshops will be directed toward agriculture professionals and educators in the NC-SARE and Appalachian Ohio regions. The GEOG system of implementing site specific techniques is replicable throughout the NC-SARE region and has strong implications for the Appalachian bioregion. GEOG is a 120-acre certified organic farm in Athens County, Ohio owned by Kip and Becky Rondy. They produce and market vegetables, mushrooms, and micro-greens year-round through a community-supported agriculture (CSA), a farmer’s market, and wholesale customers. They employ 8 full-time employees, 3 part-time employees, and host 4 internships. They have a year-round payroll of $225,000 and annual gross sales of $352,000. They market locally in the Athens area and regionally to Columbus, 1.5 hours away. This mid-sized farm operated by full-time farmers represents a shrinking yet impactful area of agriculture: the “agriculture of the middle.” Since the early 1990s, RA has promoted, supported, and educated around asset-based strategies that are good for the economy, community, and environment. RA partners with farmers, non-profits, OSU Extension educators and community members. These partnerships will maximize the impact of this project.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Eight trainings will be produced. These will be seasonally specific and will include six introductory level and two advanced trainings. All trainings will have a target attendance of 15 professionals. The advanced level workshops will be designed by the collaborative team in response to questions and inputs provided by training attendees. Trainings will include a total of at least 120 training slots over the 24 month period. Attendees will be accepted at a first come first served status. The target output for attendance is 80 separate individuals. After the first introductory sessions are conducted the collaborative team, including GEOG will decide whether to increase the number of attendees allowed.
    Written support materials including templates and contact compilations will be created and will be posted online, provided as an electronic package on a flash drive and a binder and hard copies will be provided.
    Eighty agriculture and natural resource professionals will acquire new ideas and support materials about how to apply season extension on small acre specialty crop farms in Appalachian Ohio.
    Eighty agriculture and natural resource professionals will acquire new ideas and support materials about how to manipulate high tunnel design and management in response to specific micro-climates, and during all seasons.
    Eighty agriculture and natural resource professionals will view season extension as a site specific element of a multi-cropping multi-marketing farm business model.
    The long-term outcome of this project will be an increase in farms utilizing season extension techniques over a longer period during the year, which results in increased local food availability and profitability.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.