Deep Winter Food Production in the North Central Region

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2017: $196,423.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2019
Grant Recipient: University of Minnesota
Region: North Central
State: Minnesota
Project Coordinator:
Greg Schweser
Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships


  • Vegetables: greens (leafy)


  • Crop Production: greenhouses, season extension types and construction, varieties and cultivars
  • Energy: energy conservation/efficiency, solar energy
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns


    Deep Winter Greenhouses (DWG) are a new production system available to farmers in the North Central Region. The DWG utilizes a steeply sloped glazing angle to capture solar heat that is stored in a heavily insulated foundation filled with crushed rock. That heat is available to the growing area at night when internal temperatures cool. DWGs require very little external delivered heat and are functional with minimal electricity except that which is required to operate fans and room lights. The system, however, is currently small scale and has high startup costs. This project looks to identify opportunities to maximize production of cold hardy and low light crops, identify enterprise performance of existing producers, and make information about DWGs available to a broad public. 

    Project objectives:

    Outcomes will give farmers the ability to make sound business decisions when incorporating Deep Winter Greenhouses into their enterprises.

    Learning outcomes include:

    Horticultural learning outcomes

    • Know the best winter crop varieties
    • Understand optimal seeding densities
    • Understand optimal horticultural substrate for winter production

    Enterprise learning outcomes

    • Understand how to increase return on investment
    • Know how to maximize space
    • Identify optimal marketing channels

    Action outcomes

    • Project research results shared broadly through producer networks and social media
    • DWG producers increase yields by adopting research recommendations
    • Producers make informed decisions to adopt DWG technology
    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.