User/Grower Educational Materials and Training for Polyethylene Film High Tunnel Winter Production and Harvesting of Organic Salad Greens and Vegetables

2003 Annual Report for LNC02-217

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2002: $43,274.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2006
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $20,000.00
Region: North Central
State: Michigan
Project Coordinator:
John Biernbaum
Michigan State University

User/Grower Educational Materials and Training for Polyethylene Film High Tunnel Winter Production and Harvesting of Organic Salad Greens and Vegetables


The proposal time line was revised to build the greenhouse at Giving Tree Farm during the fall of 2003 rather than fall 2002. Several greenhouse manufacturers were considered and a FarmTek Clearspan greenhouse was ordered. A partnership between Michigan State (MSU) and Sue Houghton at Giving Tree Farm (GTF) has resulted in improvements in greenhouse growing methods and development of the first training manual. We will continue working on training manual development during year 2. We presented a successful one day workshop with a field trip to MSU and GTF for the Michigan Organic Agriculture Conference.

Objectives/Performance Targets

The stated outcomes proposed were:

1) One hightunnel (greenhouse) will be built at a farm and one at an elementary school and the farmer and teachers will be assisted with purchasing necessary equipment and seeds for producing crops. The farmer or teachers will explain their experiences to workshop participants.

2) Farmers and school garden program coordinators will be provided the information necessary to purchase and construct a polyethylene film covered hightunnel (greenhouse) and organically produce winter greens and vegetables for local sales or school lunches. The primary method of information dissemination will be a two day workshop including a field trip, PowerPoint presentations and a detailed manual.


Objective. 1. The initial plan was to build the greenhouse at GTF in the fall of 2002 but a decision was made to wait until fall 2003. Following submission of the NCSARE proposal (Jan, 2002), a second proposal by the P.I. to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation was funded (April, 2002) to build three greenhouses to start the MSU Student Organic Farm and a year-round CSA marketing program. The farmer cooperator, Susan Houghton at Giving Tree Farm, secured funding to build a small greenhouse which was already in progress when the NCSARE funds became available.

Objective 2. The second year of the baby leaf salad greens project included 15 crops planted every week for 8 weeks starting in September. Crop planting for the MSU SOF 48 week Community Supported Agriculture program started in February, 2003. The additional experience with the new greenhouses and crops provided important information for the NCSARE outreach program. A one day workshop titled “Hoophouses for Local Food and Farming” was organized in March 2003 as part of the Michigan Organic Agriculture Conference. With a half day of classroom time and a half day of tours to the MSU-SOF and the GTF, the program was well received and provided a foundation and experience for future workshops.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

Growers and educators are becoming more aware of the potential for winter production and harvesting but the methods are still very new to most Midwest farmers. Thirty participants attended our first one day workshop, saw winter greenhouse production first hand, exchanged ideas with other farmers, and left with new ideas and opportunities to produce winter vegetables.


Melissa Timm-Cook

Research Assistant
Michigan State University
Department of Horticulture
East Lansing, MI 48824
Office Phone: 5173555191