Beyond Season Extension: High Tunnels for Season Creation and Economic, Community, and Environmental Sustainability
Since April 4th 2013 through January 23rd, 2014 four Season Creation Professional Development Program trainings have been held. Sixty one participants have attended. Three of these workshops have been entry level and 1 has been advanced. Attendees include 17 NRCS employees, 5 OSU Extension Educators, 17 Farmers, 17 educators-including environmental educators, NGO educators and NRCS and OSU Extension volunteer educators. The presentations have included classroom and on farm sessions, generally running from 10:00am to 4:00pm. Class room sessions consist of an evolving powerpoint presentation broken into 3 basic sections- growing, marketing and infrastructure; each section is presented by the farm member whose area of expertise is covered. The on-farm segments are broken into two sessions one on infrastructure and one on planting, each led by the appropriate Green Edge team member. A recent advanced session focused deeply on marketing with an eight year review of sales, and then hands on harvesting and packaging. All attendees receive a folder with a quality print out of the powerpoint and other materials. Recent advanced session attendees received a copy of the 33 page Green Edge Manual, which was created with leveraged funding. Consultation and workshop attendance has resulted in the creation of a new high tunnel construction business, the reproduction of the Green Edge system by several farmers, and the creation of a strong tool kit which can be used and disseminated by educators, as well as farmers.
- SARE PDP Green EDGE 2014 Schedule
- SARE Season Creation Powerpoint
- Green Edge Advanced Evaluation
- Green Edge Farm Map Final
- Green Edge Planting Guide
- SARE Advanced Agenda
- Season Creation Manual
- Advance SARE Season Creation Presentation
- Green Edge Advanced Guidelines
- Green Edge SARE Welcome
- Green Edge Winter Crops SARE
- Green house Income by Crop
- Green Edge SARE table of Contents
- Season Creation Attendees Map
- Kip Rondy and NRCS Conservationist
The central objective was to create an educational experience, which included written take-away materials for a broad spectrum of agricultural and natural resources educators on a proven system of high tunnel winter production. Up to this point 4 workshops have been held, 3 introductory and 1 advanced. A folder containing a print out of the power point, general high tunnel information, and additional materials updated over time based on evaluations and evolving data, is disseminated to every attendee.
- Material and outreach preparation began in January of 2013; Workshop marketing and press also began at that time. This included a radio spot and News paper articles announcing the receipt of the grant.
- February 2013 Green Edge Organic Gardens staff began creating materials including diagrams and Quick Book reports. The upcoming series was marketed through the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA)) Conference.
- March 2013 preparation continued including outreach to NRCS, OEFFA, and OSU Extension, as well as Green Edge Creation of the first powerpoint and the first version of the two concurrent on farm breakout sessions.
- April 4 first workshop was held with 19 total attendees, including 6 NRCS, 5 other educators, and 1 farmer. Average evaluation was 9.1 out of ten. Attendees mentioned wanting more business information.
- June 28th was the second workshop which had 13 attendees, 1 OSU Extension, 7 farmers and 3 other educators. The evaluations were 9 out of ten average, and one positive evaluation was about the financial information which was inserted in this workshop.
- December 12th was the third introductory workshop, and was attended by 16 total, including 3 OSU Extension Educators, 6 farmers and 5 other educators. The average evaluation rating was 9.5 out of 10. Attendees remarked that they enjoyed the detailed winter planting info from Farm Manager Dan Kneier.
- January 23rd was the first of the advanced sessions. These were designed for people who had already attended one session. 13 people total attended, including 6 NRCS, 1 farmer and 5 other educators. In depth sales and marketing records and histories were presented. The farm tour portion included hands on harvesting experience, and hands on packaging experience. Attendees ranked it 9.3 out of 10 on evaluations and many remarked that the deep economic review was very useful.
Green Edge Owners and staff to date have logged 145 hours for workshop design and materials as well as high tunnel consulting for participants, they’ve also received money per workshop. Farm hours are logged and the work is noted and the farm member doing the work is noted, this log has been kept for the entire project.
This project has continued to improve as the Green Edge Farm owners and staff have had the resources through NC SARE to chronicle their methods, and hone their presentations. The four major participant/presenters are farm owners Kip and Becky Rondy, Farm Manager Dan Kneier, and CSA Manager Miranda Kridler. They each focus on their specialties, both during the presentations, and during the preparation. Both preparation and presentations have been extremely professional and this fact has been chronicled and supported by the 4 sets of evaluations. Miranda Kridler serves as educational coordinator for the project for Green Edge, and maintains the Green Edge records, materials and logs. Attendees who have attended more than once have noted the positive progression of the workshops.Several partnering educational entities have received consultation through this project. One consultee has been a group of OSU Master Gardeners who are leading a high tunnel program for developmentally disabled clients. Another consultee is a for-profit educational farm which has been able to add a successful high tunnel program to its other educational activities, this has helped to grow that business. A third recipient of consultations has been a farmer who has added two high tunnels, and is starting a high tunnel construction business based on the Green Edge model. All three of these clients have created positive economic activity in the poorest region of Ohio through resources generated through this program. A fourth consultee has been a local non-profit doing a school gardening project; Green Edge staff have been able to consult on high tunnel construction that will benefit school students The creation of the Green Edge Manual, and the accompanying video through funds that this SARE PDP put us in a position to leverage has created a tool kit to supply educators with succinct high tunnel education materials. One OSU Extension Educator recently acquired 10 manuals to distribute at a workshop.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
- The documents attached to this report are a major contribution and will represent an educational tool that educators, farmers and other stakeholders will be able to use for years to come.
- These documents should continue to evolve and improve in the second year of this project.
- This funding has created space and time for an innovative farm and its innovative employees to chronicle and critique their system.
- The Green Edge farmers have been able to hone their educational abilities and create tools that will help them advance and benefit from their intellectual capital; this includes employees as well as owners, the employees participating closest will take into their careers a strong experience of conducting a successful educational program.
- The Green Edge Intellectual Capital has been packaged so as to benefit farmers both directly and indirectly and to give insights and lessons to educators.
- Several farmers have been able to advance their farms production, profitability and risk management at a faster pace due to the experience sharing enabled by this program.
- Methods including construction and design presented by this program have resulted in a new business.
- People from throughout the State of Ohio, as well as surrounding States have learned about local agriculture as an economic driver in the poorest region of the State, have had a reason to come to this region, and have boosted the economy by their visit.
- Sixteen NRCS employees charged with conducting the building of high tunnels through the EQUIP program have had a deep look at the possibilities and impacts of high tunnel based production systems.
- The winter of 2014 has been one of the hardest in recent years with low temperatures ranging to fifteen below fahrenheit. This project is allowing for the documentation and presentation of that experience to other farmers and to educators.