Water Catchment to Sustain Food Production in the Midst of Climate Crisis

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2023: $49,401.00
Projected End Date: 08/01/2025
Grant Recipient: KC Farm School at Gibbs Road
Region: North Central
State: Kansas
Project Coordinator:
Alicia Ellingsworth
The Farm School at Gibbs Road Inc.


Not commodity specific


  • Crop Production: high tunnels or hoop houses, water management, water storage
  • Education and Training: farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research

    Proposal abstract:

    Weather patterns are becoming more erratic, making growing conditions increasingly difficult for farmers.  In response, high tunnels and hoop houses are being used to extend growing seasons and moderate temperatures.  These provide benefits, but they also make water management more challenging because they divert rainfall away from the soil within. Providing consistent water for crops is becoming a greater challenge given the drought that has been affecting the western U.S. and is now much of Kansas. 

    Further, high tunnels affect soil health through accumulation of salts when using municipal water instead of rain.

    This project will demonstrate rainwater harvesting (RWH) techniques for high tunnels at three small farms in Wyandotte and Miami Counties in Kansas.  The project will construct systems to collect runoff from high tunnels, storage using tanks or a basin, and a distribution system for use within the tunnels.  Construction methods, costs, water use, and savings will be documented during the project.  Educational workshops will share the knowledge with other farmers on design, construction, operation, efficiency, and costs.  In addition, a small-scale system relatable to home or market growers will be installed at KC Farm School and used for outreach through their “Let’s Grow Wyandotte!” program.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Construct three rainwater harvesting systems for typical high tunnel applications on farms, plus a small-scale community demonstration system applicable to backyard growers.
    2. Document all design steps, construction methods applicable to farm and residential use, and material costs to support educational outreach.
    3. Monitor and record the performance of each system
    4. Conduct 4 training workshops for farmers and backyard growers, to teach others how to do the same.
    5. Widely share knowledge and education on water conservation techniques to help growers adapt to increasingly challenging climate patterns.
    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.