- Crop Production: high tunnels or hoop houses, low tunnels, season extension types and construction
Rhode Island is a small state with small farms. Average acreage is less than 9 acres per farm. A great way to grow more produce on a limited amount of land is to extend the growing season by covering crops. Some RI growers extend their season with high tunnels and many with low tunnels, but few RI farmers use caterpillar tunnels (also called walk-in tunnels). Caterpillar tunnels are a logical choice for many small RI farms because they costs 1/4 - 1/3 the price of high tunnels, are easy to construct and cover, have excellent air flow, improved yield and quality of field-grown produce, and are easily moved to new locations. Many vegetable growers in the Northeast use caterpillar tunnels, but they have not been promoted in Rhode Island. Some RI small growers have expressed interest in extending their growing season but, for various reasons, are not ready to construct high tunnels. RI's three-year SARE PDP project will be to train RI ASP and RI farmers to construct and use caterpillar tunnels to improve crop quality and quantity and extend the production season.
Performance targets from proposal:
Over the three years of this project 8 ASP will provide training to 75 RI farmers on construction and use of caterpillar tunnels. These farmers will mostly be small acreage farmers, probably farming a total of 200 acres in Rhode Island.