Low-Tech Season Extended Production: Yield and Marketability of Salad Greens Varieties

Project Overview

FNC02-419
Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2002: $5,132.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2004
Region: North Central
State: Indiana
Project Coordinator:

Commodities

  • Vegetables: beets, greens (leafy), peas (culinary)
  • Additional Plants: herbs

Practices

  • Crop Production: organic fertilizers
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: community-supported agriculture, marketing management, agricultural finance
  • Pest Management: field monitoring/scouting, prevention
  • Production Systems: general crop production
  • Sustainable Communities: analysis of personal/family life, sustainability measures

    Summary:

    PROJECT BACKGROUND
    We are tenant vegetable farmers on about six acres of good ridge land within the city limits of Louisville, Kentucky. For this effort we were tenants on about seven acres of good soil in southern Indiana not farm from Louisville, where we market most of our produce. We serve thirty families by community supported agriculture, we sell at two to three different farmers’ markets, and we sell to more than a dozen restaurants and stores in the Louisville area. We had been certified organic by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (we were in Kentucky before moving to Indiana) for six years and even though we have decided not to certify with the National Organic Program, we are continuing with the practices that earned us certification previously.

    On our farm we grow a very wide variety of vegetables, along with some herbs, cut flowers, and small fruit. This variety allows some ease with crop rotation, although, as tenants, long term crop rotation plans, field fallowing, and indeed what we think of as more “whole systems” approaches, such as combined produce and animal operations, remain somewhat more elusive. Such efforts require greater long term land security.

    PROJECT DESCRIPTION AND RESULTS
    Our objective was to research the late fall/early winter and late winter/early spring yield and marketability of salad greens for commercial unheated greenhouse/row cover production. Our varieties were primarily non-lettuce, but we included some trialing of lettuce varieties in this research as well. This is the sort of proportion we most often favor, as we believe interest “especially in unusual or ‘new’ salads such as mesclun,” (Kuepper, “Specialty Lettuce and Greens: Organic Production.” ATTRA) as has been true in the past will only continue and we think the “new” opportunities of today lie primarily with majority non-lettuce type salad mixes. Specifically, for all varieties, we wanted to measure yield weights per square foot and we want to measure the percentage of marketable crop, both of which we would measure over time, in a succession of plantings. The problem we had encountered as regular salad greens producers, is a lack of this sort of nuts and bolts type of cold season data upon which one might make decisions about varieties and seasonal variety mixtures.

    In detail, we addressed the lack of yield and marketability data on a variety of different salad greens twenty one in all (we added two to make twenty three), 16 non-lettuce and 5 lettuce varieties. Specifically, we wanted to use this grant to address a lack of data at two distinct times of year, namely, in what we call the “sub-seasons,” of late fall/early winter and late winter/early spring. In each sub-season, we measured yield weight per square foot and percentage of marketable crop. We had also planned to record daily high and low temperatures, but after having had some initial difficulty with the consistency of our recordings, we decided we might be more helpful if we were to rely on a nearby National Weather Service Station for such data.

    Generally speaking, we planned and conducted our research in the area of season extension largely as a part of the regular effort of our operation. We planned and conducted our research, in other words, as a logical as well as a seasonal extension of what we do regularly. More specifically, we used floating row covers (which we had used previously on our farm) and low tech high tunnels (which we had used previously only for transplant propagation) in combination. See the “technology” process description section below. We also worked to compare a wide selection of salad greens varieties for out in the ground tunnel and row cover combination field trials. See the “varieties” in the process description section below.

    Process, Technology:
    Tunnels: We worked over two seasons in two tunnels, both of which were very low tech and can be built for around three hundred dollars each in materials and thirty hours each in labor. Materials, per tunnel, include eighteen pieces of twenty foot ½ inch rebar, between two hundred fifty and three hundred feet of five foot wide concrete reinforcing fence, and one twenty four by ninety-six, 4 year, and 6 mil. Greenhouse plastic. Wire for attaching fence to rebar is also required.

    Sides of plastic are buried in 8” wide 10” deep trenches. End of sections of concrete reinforcing fence have one edge wire removed in order that cross wires may be folded over end rebar. Rebar is pushed into the ground at depths of 12” to 18”. Reinforcing fence is added after all rebar is in place. String is helpful for sitting and squaring the structure. Wire is used to attaché fence to rebar. Both sides of fence sections are wired to rebar. Fence does not overlap. Rebar are spaced at 5’ intervals. The ends are at 4’6”, as the cross wires are folded over the end rebar. Tunnels are 10’ wide and 6’ tall. If extra plastic is used, ends may be secured by pulling plastic tight from around the arc of the end (the ends secured at the center will resemble a scallop shell).

    After some consideration of (and some accrual of additional expenses because of planning around such considerations) plantings in our larger tunnels, we decided we would be more true to our low tech ambitions if we confined our work to our smaller houses. The added benefits of our having made this decision was that we were able to control for the variable of size of air mass. If we worked in tunnels of the same size, we would have air masses of the same size. These smaller tunnels made sense to us because they were inexpensive and because they didn’t require a lot of labor.

    Row Covers: Row covers come in a variety of brands, widths, lengths and thicknesses, and are made to offer some protection for frost sensitive plants. Normally, we attach the covers to the ground in the open field using sod staples which can be had for about thirty dollars for a thousand count box. For this effort we used tunnels and row covers in combination.

    While we had been using row covers for years with some considerable success, it usually happened (especially with taller plants) that we would lose covers to the wind at some point during the winter. Much shorter plants would only occasionally survive the winter with their row covers attached (and intact). After many late nights attempting to pull row covers back over crops against the wind, it began to make sense that tunnels would, at least, offer some protection for the covers. I think this hunch was very much born out by our research experience. We rarely had to reattach as much as a single sod staple. More than that, we found that it was almost exclusively with our over wintered crop that a cover was required at all. For late fall/early winter production in our area, we only pulled the cover over once toward the beginning of December.

    The Varieties: For purposes of comparison and for more information, anecdotal descriptions are for regular season open field unprotected conditions. For seed expense, we generally consider seeds to be expensive if they cost more than thirty dollars per pound. Moderate prices range between twenty and thirty dollars per pound. Inexpensive seed costs less than twenty dollars per pound. This rating is meant only as a rough guide as it does not consider seed specifications or number of seeds per pound. Similarly, yield weights per square foot (yield weights) descriptions here are offered as a rough guide and are listed as heavy, moderate, or low, only as they relate to one another.

    Non-Lettuce:
    Arugula: crowd favorite. Spicy, nutty flavor, green lobed leaf, inexpensive seed, moderate yield weights. Prefers fall over spring, moderately flea beetle susceptible in spring.

    Bull’s Blood Beet: Dark purple leaf and stem, moderate yield weights, and prefers spring.

    Early Wonder Beet: Green leaf with red veins and stem, inexpensive seed, higher yield weights and faster growth than Bull’s Blood and also prefers spring.

    Dill: Along with chervil (which, because of its extraordinary cold hardiness, we didn’t feel the need to trial indoors), dill adds fresh and distinct flavor to mixes. Feathery leaf, inexpensive seed and low yield weights.

    Endive: Bitter sweet flavor is sweeter after frost. “Tres-fine” type is transplanted and rubber banded shortly before harvest. Rubber banding blanches hearts. Blanched hearts are yellow/white and frilly. Not expensive for transplanting. Consistently high yield weights in fall. Bolt susceptible in spring.

    Escarole: Very similar to endive, blanched hearts are more solid then frilly. Not as bolt susceptible in spring.

    Bronze Fennel: Mild anise or licorice flavor. Purple or “bronze” leaf, expensive seed, otherwise very similar to dill.

    Red Russian Kale: Mild flavor, blue green slightly frilly leaf with reddish purple veins and stems. Moderately priced seed, low to moderate yield weights.

    Mizuna Mustard: Mild flavor, serrated pale green leaf, white stem. Moderately priced seed, high yield weights, highly flea beetle susceptible in spring.

    Red Giant Mustard: Spicy, rounded slightly frilly reddish purple leaf, green stem. Expensive seed. Moderate to high yield weights, lightly flea beetle susceptible in spring.

    Snow Pea Vines: Top four to six inches of tops of plants are harvested. Stems are more tender when thick than thin. Fresh pea flavor. Distinct leaf and trendril, can be harvested with blossom. Inexpensive seed, low to moderate yield weights.

    Pepper Grass (a.k.a. curly cress): Top four to six inches of tops of plants with stems are harvested. Very spicy, frilly, feathery green leaf and stem. Inexpensive seed, moderate yield weights, lightly bolt susceptible in spring.

    Radicchio: Similar to and in the same family as endive and escarole. Does not require rubber banding. Hearts are bright magenta with white veins. More expensive and more tempermental than endive and escarole. Moderate to high yield weights.

    Rat-tail Radish Pods: Very distinctive, spicy radish flavor, longer season than most other varieties. Been shaped pods are more tender when young, expensive seed and low yield weights

    Shungiku: Top four to six inches of tops of plants with stems are harvested. Robust and powerful flavor. Slightly serrated, branching, green stems and leaves. Moderately priced seed, high yield weights and prefers spring.

    Sorrel: Highly citric in flavor, plain green leaf, expensive seed, and moderate yield weighs.

    Tatsoi: Mild flavor, dark green round leaves, pale green stems, moderately priced seed, moderate yield weights and moderately susceptible to flea beetles in spring.

    Lettuce:
    Kentucky Bibb: Low and spreading growth difficult to harvest except when adult sized. Sweet and tender (too tender for mixing when young). Inexpensive seed and moderate yield weights.

    Parries Island Cos: Upright and firm, flavorful green romaine, moderately priced seed and high yield weights.

    Red Salad Bowl: Flavorful red oak leaf, expensive seed, and moderate yield weights.

    Rouge d’Hiver: Tender red romaine, expensive seed, and high yield weights.

    Even under regular season, open field, unprotected conditions, a great many factors contribute to our variety selections, including for example, flavor, color, and shape (or other distinctions) of leaf, expense of seeds, yield weights, susceptibility to pests, and apparent preference for spring or fall. Our hope in trailing so many varieties of salad greens was to extend our regular season production into what many growers regard as the “off season.” In particular, we wanted to provide the sort of data that would answer questions about how much money people can make and what they should (or shouldn’t) consider growing. We wanted to provide this sort of data for both late fall/early winter and late winter/early spring (over wintered) harvests.

    The Planting:
    In both the regular season and in the extended season, we plant our salad greens seed in a very shallow furrow (one inch deep, at most) across four foot wide beds. Cutting the furrows is as much a bed marking procedure as it is a furrowing exercise. Essentially, we seed across our beds in three to four inch wide bands with three to four inches between bands. We do not cover the seeds. Peas are the exception. For peas we cut a two to three inch deep furrow and then we cover the seed. Rates vary according to seed size, but averages are around thirty to fifty seeds per band. We seed by hand.

    Our field and bed preparation is based on our limited access to land and water. Our intensive cropping system of wide (four to five feet) beds and narrow aisles (less than one foot) allows us to use our land and our low out put overhead irrigation system with good efficiency. Salad greens do well in this intensive environment as they are fast growing and (when planted closely) tend to crowd out most weeds.

    People:
    We are grateful to the many people who helped us with this effort.

    Roy Ballard, Purdue Floyd County Extension Agent, helped with our outreach in many ways including with, getting the word out both about our field day and our participation in the Starlight Vegetable Growers meeting. On a wet and cold day in December, Roy also attended our field day. He also transported our poster and many, many flyers to the Indiana Horticultural Congress. Roy also referred me to Dale Rhoads. He recommended my proposal.

    Paul Carnaghi, of the DeWitt Company helped with donations of floating row covers even after he said their efficacy in efforts such as ours had been well established. We had a number of interesting conversations about possibilities for season extension.

    Keith Clark, of Bunton Seed Company, made a seed donation.

    Liz Maynard, PhD, Purdue University North Central was an instrumental part of helping to frame my proposal in strong research terms. She also helped with the development of our poster so that our most useful data and results would be readily available. She originally floated the idea of presenting with a poster (and guaranteed our participation, at a minimum, in this way) at the Indiana Horticultural Congress. She also recommended my proposal.

    Roshni Prasad, of Ornamental Edibles, made a seed donation.

    Dale Rhoads, a previous SARE Producer Grant recipient was a great help as I was considering putting a proposal together. His step by step walk through, specifically, and his advice, generally, about putting together something that would answer real questions and be of real help to producers, laid the foundation for this work.

    Marion Simon, PhD Kentucky State University, helped with getting the word out about my participation in KSU’s monthly small farm oriented workshop. She also helped with developing my proposal.

    Finally, I would be remiss, if I did not list my very able farm help, many of whom stood in when I could not and under very trying circumstances. Without them there would likely have been far less data collected. They are Rodman Botkins, Zachary Bramel, Todd Childers, Dan Kischnick, Brent Peters, and Benjamin Read. Many thanks to these young farmers.

    Results:
    Yields were measured in lbs/square foot; marketability was rated at high – 76-100%, medium – 51-75%, low – 26-50% and very low – 0-25%.

    Non-lettuce:
    Rankings are from the list of non-lettuce varieties.

    Arugula:
    Late winter/early spring (over wintered): bolted quickly. Very low yields and marketability. Not recommended for over wintering.

    Late fall/early winter: high yields and marketability over two plantings, ranking third and second respectively. In line with expectations. Highly recommended for late fall/early winter.

    Bull’s Blood Beet Tops:
    Over wintered: crop failure little or no germination likely due to cool soil. Not recommended for over wintering.

    Late fall/early winter: inconsistent yields and marketability over two plantings. In yields, ranking sixth and barely registering, respectively. Marketability was similarly inconsistent. Earlier planting was somewhat surprising. Still warm soil temperatures in tunnel likely aided germination. Yields on earlier planting likely aided by warmer conditions overall. Recommended for early late fall/early winter.

    Early Wonder Beet Tops:
    Slightly better performance overall than Bull’s Blood in much the same way as in the regular season. A mirror of Bull’s Blood in all other ways.

    Dill:
    Over wintered: very low yields and marketability. Very light germination and slow growth allowed for higher weed pressure. Not recommended for over wintering.

    Late fall/early winter: not planted. Held for longer season planting, perhaps, in tunnels by themselves, along with Bronze Fennel (in small proportions) and high yielding chicory family members (endive, escarole and radicchio) which usually require transplanting and which themselves also require more time to mature. Our reasoning here was based on the limits of our irrigation set up. Because separate irrigation (as well as the necessary irrigation removal) at different times for differing rates of maturity would have been very difficult (and because we did not want a plain crop of late chicories, dill and fennel), we opted against replanting these crops for late fall/early winter.

    Endive:
    Over wintered: crop failure likely due to inability of transplants to gain establishment in cooling soils. Extraordinary regular season fall yielder recommended for further study. Growers might except yield and marketability similar to green radicchio below.

    Late fall/early winter: not planted, see dill above.

    Escarole:
    Same as the endive above.

    Bronze Fennel:
    Same as dill above.

    Red Russian Kale:
    Over wintered: tied for third in yields and with a high rate of marketability. Fairly slow to bolt. In line with expectations and as compared with spring regular season plantings. Recommended for over wintering.

    Late fall/early winter: ranked fourth and fifth, respectively, in yields and with a high rate of marketability over two plantings. In line with expectations for fall plantings. Recommended for late fall/early winter.

    Mizuna Mustard:
    Over wintered: very low yield and marketability. Bolted quickly, not recommended for over wintering.

    Late fall/early winter: ranked first and third, respectively, and with a high rate of marketability over two plantings. In line with expectations and as compared with regular season fall plantings. Recommended for late fall/early winter.

    Red Giant Mustard:
    Over wintered: first in yield (by far) and with a high rate of marketability. Fairly slow to bolt. In line with or in excess of expectations as compared with regular season spring plantings. Recommended for over wintering.

    Late fall/early winter: crop failure due to excess water, and then ranked fourth, respectively, with a high rate of marketability. In line with expectations and as compared with regular season fall plantings. Recommended for late fall/early winter.

    Pea Vines:
    Over wintered: tied for third in yields with a moderate rate of marketability. In line with expectations and as compared with regular season spring plantings. Recommended for over wintering.

    Late fall/early winter: ranked seventh over two plantings in yields, and with a high rate of marketability. In line with expectations and as compared with regular season fall plantings. Recommended for late fall/early winter.

    Pepper Grass:
    Over wintered: tied for third in yields and with a moderate rate of marketability. In line with expectations and in comparison with regular season fall plantings. Recommended for over wintering.

    Late fall/early winter: crop failure due to excess water then tied for fourth with a high rate of marketability. In line with expectations and in comparison with regular season fall plantings. Recommended for late fall/early winter.

    Green Radicchio:
    Over wintered: ranked second in yield with a high rate of marketability. Loose leaf non-heading variety, Grumolo, has a fuzzy leaf and is bitter even for chicory. First time planting. Recommended in small proportion for tolerant customers. Transplanted heading varieties recommended for further study. See dill above.

    Late fall/early winter: not replanted, see green radicchio over wintered above, and dill above.

    Red Radicchio:
    Over wintered: Rossa di Verona non-heading type same as green radicchio above, but with lower yields.

    Late fall/early winter: not replanted, see green radicchio over wintered above, and dill above.

    Rat-tail Radish Pods:
    Over wintered: low yields and low rate of marketability. Longer season than other varieties. In line with expectations and as compared with regular season spring plantings. Recommended perhaps, in small quantities with chicory family members, dill and fennel. see dill above.

    Late fall/early winter: not replanted, see above.

    Shungiku:
    Over wintered: fourth in yield with a moderate rate of marketability. Surprisingly cold hardy. Recommended for over wintering.

    Late fall/early winter: ranked second and first, respectively with a high rate of marketability over two plantings. Somewhat surprisingly productive and cold hardy as compared with regular season fall planting. Recommended for late fall/early winter.

    Sorrel:
    Over wintered: not planted, added as a substitute in late fall/early winter for rat-tail radish pods. Over wintering study recommended.

    Late fall/early winter: tied for third with a high rate of marketability, then mistakenly not planted. Still somewhat new in our mixes. Recommended in somewhat small proportions in late fall/early winter due to highly citric flavor.

    Tatsoi:
    Over wintered: very low yield and marketability. Bolted quickly, not recommended for over wintering.

    Late fall/early winter: tied for fifth over two plantings with a high rate of marketability. In line with expectations and in comparison with regular season fall plantings. Recommended for late fall/early winter.

    Lettuce:
    With the exception of Kentucky Bibb, all of our four lettuce varieties (Parris Island Cos, Red Salad Bowl, Rouge d’Hiver and Tango) had high yield rates both as they were over wintered and in late fall/early winter over two plantings. All four varieties are recommended in both sub-seasons.

    Interestingly, and perhaps not quite so surprisingly, in retrospect, we found a very high correlation between high and low rates of yields and high and low rates of marketability, so that, in effect, the two registers of measurement reflected very similar rates of success. Expectations to this very high rate of correlation were only amongst a few over wintered varieties. Specifically, pea vines, pepper grass, and shungiku, yielded fairly highly even with moderate rates of marketability.

    Explanation of the above mentioned high rate of correlation lies mainly with our high rates of success with the technology. Even without heat and even over winter, tunnel and row cover combinations were sufficient to prevent, almost entirely, cold related damage even in the season’s coldest conditions. Certainly, this was our greatest surprise. While we had hoped to improve over open field use of floating row covers, we really had not imagined that our cold protection would be so nearly complete. Where previously we had lost crops in the open field under wet and frozen row covers or we had been, simply, unable to secure the row covers sufficiently against the wind, a tunnel and row cover combination solved both of these problems. Tunnel plastic both kept freezing moisture off the plants and broke the wind so that securing covers was not an issue.

    Other than making adjustments so that we could close our ends more completely (cold air was passing through six to eight inch high gaps at the bottoms of our ends throughout our trials), we were very pleased with the effectiveness of this simple technology. If, for example, we were to use one and one half lengths of plastic per tunnel, we would likely be able both to extend our tunnels ten to fifteen feet and leave enough extra to seal our ends almost entirely. Other than this we would likely not do anything differently technologically.

    Other things we would do differently are largely those that we would adjust for because of the data themselves. See non-lettuce varieties under results above for details. We would likely not again plant highly bolt susceptible varieties (arugula, mizuna mustard, and tatsoi) for over wintering. We, very much, would consider planting, in larger volume, beet varieties and shungiku for the earlier part of late fall/early winter. We would also likely make adjustments so that we could plant longer season varieties (chicory family transplants, dill, fennel, and rat-tail radish pods) in a separate house at a different time.

    Discussion:
    Things are never quite as simple as they might seem. Specifically, while it might be accurate enough to say that low tech season extended production such as we have attempted might add two to three weeks onto the beginning and end of a growing season, this statement is not especially helpful. What we found to be helpful and what we learned, perhaps, most importantly, from this grant, is that this sort of season extension adds two to three weeks onto the beginnings and ends of specific crop seasons on a crop by crop basis. For example, even amongst salad greens, some are more hardy and faster to grow than others, so that we began thinking of the possibility of transitioning on a mixed crop basis out of and into different kinds of salad greens.

    As we considered over wintering, we began thinking of indoor and outdoor combinations that would largely free up tunnels for the most tender of over wintering varieties (except, perhaps, for some hedging with some proportion of hardier over wintering varieties also planted indoors) along with outdoor plantings of varieties that showed themselves able to over winter outdoors under row cover alone. The results, in this case, of over wintering might be a mix of the earliest indoor over wintered lettuce, red mustard, red Russian kale and pepper grass, followed in a week or so, possibly by, more of the above along with indoor over wintered pea vines and shungiku and maybe, early outdoor over wintered lettuce, red mustard, and kale. The next week might bring the last of indoor over wintered pea vines and shungiku along with more outdoor over wintered lettuce, mustard, and kale. The next week might bring regrowth of indoor and outdoor over wintered lettuce along with the earliest spring planted non-lettuce greens.

    As we began thinking of late fall/early winter harvest, we began to see scenarios not unlike the one above describing indoor/outdoor staged combinations of plantings. We might begin, for example, with a harvest of indoor, tender, heat loving beet tops, shungiku, and possibly some mizuna and early lettuces, along with an outdoor harvest of lettuces, arugula, kale, mustards, peas and sorrel. After a week or two, we might then harvest a greater proportion of indoor grown greens, perhaps including indoor chicories transplanted at the same time as the above mentioned beet tops and shungiku along with a smaller proportion of outdoor grown lettuce and non-lettuce varieties. The last week or two of harvest might include only the fastest growing greens, arugula, pepper grass, mizuna and red mustard along with regrowth from earlier tunnels.

    An operation more advanced than ours might involve four such tunnels with three reserved for staged late fall/early winter harvests and a fourth for over wintering. It should be said that over wintered varieties (indoor or out door) do best going into the cold months at not much more than an inch tall.

    Having said all this, the point of the discussion is not so much to suggest particular planting scenarios. The point is that it is important, in order to get the most out of tunnels, to think of them as rather more integral than additional to the overall timing of plantings. It stands to reason, further, that extension of season makes more particular sense when a producer is interested in working to extend production on a regular season crop with which he or she is already involved. Impact on our operation has been, in this way, both immediate (because it has already extended our season) and long term because the data we have gathered is likely to allow us to plan more effectively and efficiently.

    In conclusion, while it is with some considerable satisfaction that we can say we have established reasonable data on yields and marketability of salad green varieties, we also think we have established (see results non-lettuce varieties) that production of over wintered varieties largely resemble production of spring planted varieties (with the exception being the quickly bolting arugula, mizuna and tatsoi). Such loses to bolting are not a part of regular season spring production except in the most mature spring plants. Such losses are also an inevitable part of attempting to paint a complete research picture and along with spending additional time collecting, analyzing, and presenting data, these are the burdens of implementing a project such as ours. We also think we have established that production of late fall/early winter varieties largely resemble production of fall planted varieties (with the exceptions being beet tops and shungiku which, by performing fairly well early, actually, more closely resemble spring planted varieties). There are also unexpected successes.

    Finally, for those who would ask for more information or a recommendation concerning what we examined in this project, I would say two things, both of which I alluded to previously. I would encourage a strong knowledge of regular season production of a crop before attempting production of this crop using season extension. I would also encourage, for marketing as well as tunnel use efficiency, a combination of regular and technology extended production of the same and similar crops wherever and whenever possible.

    OUTREACH
    We shared our information by way of a series of presentations and with a field day and less formally, through our affiliation with Community Farm Alliance, based in Frankfort and Louisville, Kentucky.

    Our overall effort at outreach began with our field day which we had, literally, in the midst of harvest and data collection, so that field day attendees could see the “data” on the ground, as it were. Announcements about our field day went out via a number of channels, including by mailing lists of the Floyd County Office of the Purdue Cooperative Extension Service and the Bardstown Road Farmer’s Market (Louisville’s largest, by far) and by the Kentucky Sustainable Agriculture Community list serve as well as by email among members of Community Farm Alliance, on the board of which I serve as Vice-President. Despite this, what we felt was our best effort at the time and probably because of inclement weather, our announcements only generated what we thought was fairly light attendance – ten people all together. Even so, I thin those who did attend were well rewarded with having had the chance both to see well performing crops cut and weighed and to see the low tech tunnel technology itself and ask questions regarding appropriate construction. Roy Ballard, Purdue Floyd County Extension agent, agreed to help field and direct follow up questions regarding results. Our subsequent outreach efforts were no less successfully presented and all were much more heavily attended.

    At the regularly heavily attended Indiana Horticultural Congress in January, we presented with a large poster, including background, summary, results, and economic impact information and pictures as well as with stacks of flyers which included the bulk of the data gathered in this report. Our poster gratefully acknowledged the NCRSARE program and the flyers listed NCRSARE (and my own) contact information, so that those interested could see this final report. Poster, flyers, and pictures also made the rounds with me for my additional presentations.

    For the Starlight Vegetable Growers meeting on February 12, Purdue Floyd County Extension Agent, Roy Ballard again announced our effort with his office mailing list. The meeting and my presentation was also announced in the area weekly, the Banner Gazette as a “review of a local SARE funded project.” more than 100 people were in attendance.

    On February 19, I also attended Kentucky State University’s “Third Thursday Thing”, whose mailing list includes 600 producers, 200 extension agents, extension specialists, researchers, state governments and USDA employees. The “Third Thursday Thing” is a Southern SARE Professional Development Program funded effort. More than fifty people attended.

    As I have been over the past few months, I plan to continue further communication of my results in a less formal manner through my affiliation with Community Farm Alliance.

    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.