Expanding Warm Season High Tunnel Production Using Solar-Powered Ventilation

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2016: $7,330.00
Projected End Date: 01/30/2018
Grant Recipient: The Farm at Kraut Run, LLC.
Region: North Central
State: Missouri
Project Coordinator:
Ryan Smith
The Farm at Kraut Run, LLC.


  • Vegetables: beans, beets, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, cucurbits, greens (leafy), peas (culinary), radishes (culinary), tomatoes, turnips, brussel sprouts


  • Crop Production: continuous cropping, crop rotation, intercropping, multiple cropping
  • Energy: energy conservation/efficiency, solar energy
  • Production Systems: general crop production
  • Sustainable Communities: sustainability measures


    The Farm at Kraut Run received a high tunnel grant through the USDA NRCS program in July of 2013.  We have been producing crops inside the high tunnel year round since it was constructed.  Vegetable production inside the high tunnel during late spring and summer has been a struggle due to excessive heat and humidity which results in undue plant stress and overall poor growing conditions. The farm resides in a creek bottom where natural ventilation is limited and therefore ventilation inside the environment of the high tunnel is very poor.  We have seen a variety of fungal diseases develop inside the high tunnel on crops including lettuce, kale, tomatoes, peas, and carrots.  We also have experienced very poor tomato production inside our high tunnel due to blossom drop as a result of high heat and humidity.  We planted an earlier crop of determinate tomatoes in 2015 in attempt to avoid the hottest part of the season, but the excessive spring rainfall and early heat produced the same results.

    In communicating with our NRCS agent and several other high-tunnel growers, we have found that most high tunnels in our area are out of production during the warm season.  The small size of our farm limits our ability to forego using the area covered by our high tunnel.  The stated goals of the USDA NRCS High Tunnel Initiative include ‘extending the growing season’ and ‘improving plant quality’, however, the warm season conditions inside most high tunnels runs counter to those goals.


    The Farm at Kraut Run is a 10 acre organic farm that is used for vegetable, hog, and chicken egg production.  In our vegetable gardens we utilize a no-till, permanent raised bed strategy that focuses on soil health and diversity to produce high quality produce.  We grow most common varieties of vegetables with a focus on heirlooms.  We also raise hogs for high quality pork products.  We frequently move our hogs using electric fencing to get as much natural forage into their diet as possible.  Our chickens are used for egg production and are free-ranged for natural foraging.

    We have always operated a very sustainable operation with most of the soil work done by hand and very little fossil fuel use as we have no large equipment (tractors, etc…).  We attempt to use as few inputs as possible by making our own compost (our sole fertilizer) and potting mix.  Wherever it is necessary to purchase inputs we opt for the most sustainable products we can find.  


    Project objectives:

    Our goal was to create an environment inside the high tunnel that was adaptable to year-round production, primarily focusing on warm season production, as most high tunnel producers forego summer production due to unfavorable growing conditions as a result of high heat and humidity inside the tunnel.  This is especially problematic for a small operation such as ours as we do not have the amount of ground that would allow us to let our high tunnel lay fallow during the summer.  Many producers have added high tunnels to their operation in recent years and we hope to create a viable model for year-round high tunnel production.  

    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.