High Tunnel Immigrant Farmer Training and Demonstration Plot

Project Overview

ONC17-029
Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2017: $30,000.00
Projected End Date: 06/30/2019
Grant Recipient: The Good Acre
Region: North Central
State: Minnesota
Project Coordinator:
Nick Mabe
The Good Acre

Commodities

Not commodity specific

Practices

  • Crop Production: continuous cropping, cover crops, high tunnels or hoop houses, intercropping, season extension types and construction
  • Education and Training: demonstration, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research, workshop
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities, social networks

    Abstract:

    With short growing seasons, utilizing high tunnels for season extension can be a sustainable strategy to increase farm profit and yield. However, despite proven merits, many immigrant farmers are slow to adopt the use of high tunnels. Language barriers, in addition to lack of time and access to resource networks makes adoption of high tunnels difficult and risky. Sustainability relies on equitable distribution of knowledge and resources and yet for many immigrant farmers, classroom settings, paper handouts, or information on a website are not viable means toward lasting changes in farm practices.

    Through a hands-on peer-learning format that pairs ag professionals, university researchers, NRCS staff, and immigrant farm leaders, this project will establish replicable methods of effectively engaging immigrant farmers while also increasing the knowledge and adoption of financially and environmentally sustainable practices. This project will conduct hands-on field days and workshops at demonstration/research five sites (3 farms, 1 university and 1 non-profit food hub) to highlight the use of high tunnels and cover crops, document change in profit and showcase best practices to help encourage more immigrant farmers incorporate high tunnels and cover crops in their farm systems.

    Project objectives:

    This project will:

    -Develop farmer interview to capture high tunnel background history, management practices, lessons learned, benefits, advantages, disadvantages, and costs of high tunnels to inform a collection of case studies that farmers can use to decide if high tunnels are a good decision for their farm and if so, what kind, type, etc. 

    -Interview will ask about harvest times, yield amounts, labor inputs, total profit, soil health, etc. and will be compiled in a compendium of high-tunnel case studies gathered through the farmer interviews.

    -Conduct cover crop demonstrations at five sites: The Good Acre, Holistic Health Farms, Hmong American Farming Association, Cala Farm

    -Create high tunnel resources in Hmong and Spanish with input from farmers.

    -Hold six hands-on field day workshops: Holistic Health Farms, Cala Farm, The Good Acre, Hmong American Farming Association (HAFA), Santa Rosa Farm, and Thao Gardens Farm. 

    -Partner with FSA and NRCS to individually sign up farmers for EQIP high tunnel funding.

    -Develop replicable immigrant farm engagement strategies that involve peer-learning and hands-on workshops.

    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.