Innovative Farmers Educate Agency Personnel about Managing High Tunnels

2005 Annual Report for ENE04-082

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2004: $76,830.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2006
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $10,900.00
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
Billie Best
Regional Farm & Food Project

Innovative Farmers Educate Agency Personnel about Managing High Tunnels


High tunnels are unheated or minimally heated passive solar structures that offer farmers an inexpensive means to extend the season and intensify production, tap markets which are hungry for local product, and become more profitable without environmentally damaging practices. This project will educate extension educators and agricultural developers about the real world uses of these structures and provide them with comprehensive teaching resources to enable them to realistically advise their farmer audiences.

A 30-45 minute video will present case studies of 4 to 6 farms, highlighting the use of these structures for producing greens, mixed vegetables, tomatoes, cut flowers, and fruit. Viewers will learn about management systems, seasonality of use, start-up and construction experiences, marketing issues, economics, and farmers’ lessons and motivations. Agricultural professionals will view the video at in-service trainings and conferences and will show it at grower meetings.

A 48-72 page decision making manual will present written case studies and enterprise budgets for 4 to 6 farms, a self-assessment questionnaire for evaluating feasibility, a worksheet for comparing the start-up costs of high tunnel product with other options, production management tips, a “what matters” section, and an annotated supplier and equipment list.

Two or three tours will acquaint 25 to 50 agency personnel with how farms in three regions have adapted high tunnel growing systems.

Objectives/Performance Targets

Eighty-five agricultural educators and agency personnel will use the project curriculum in programs and consultations which reach 1,000 farmers, at least 200 of whom will implement at least one new season extension practice.


Project staff and consultants have spent 2005 documenting the use of high tunnels by the farmer cooperators chosen to share their expertise with the project. We have filmed at six farms (with one more to be filmed in 2006) and the sequences for the first five farms have been completed. We have developed our outline for the decision making manual, began writing the manual, and undertook much of the research needed to produce it.

Once the video and manual are completed we will begin publicizing and disseminating them.


Ted Blomgren

[email protected]
Extension Educator
Cornell Cooperative Extension
90 State St., Suite 600
Albany, NY 12207
Office Phone: 5184622553
Tracy Frisch

[email protected]
Regional Farm & Food Project
1293 McClay Road
Greenwich, NY 12834
Office Phone: 5186928242