Increasing late winter/early spring sales for market gardeners through season extension and improved storage options

2014 Annual Report for ONE14-213

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2014: $12,497.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2016
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
Monika Roth
Cornell Cooperative Extension Tompkins County

Increasing late winter/early spring sales for market gardeners through season extension and improved storage options


The focus of this project is on improving the quality and quantity of fresh local produce available in later winter and early spring through improved use of high tunnels and cold storage. Direct market growers in this area are finding more opportunities to market year round via full year farmers markets, CSA’s and wholesale accounts. While high tunnels are not a new technology, some farmers have yet to adopt this technology while others need to become more proficient at using it for year round production. As growers expand production to meet year round demand, they are also finding a shortage of on and off farm storage space which is becoming an obstacle to farm expansion. Another challenge is that storage space is not well suited for a diversity of crops with varying temperature and humidity needs.

To address the situation, we are planning to provide training in tunnel production, assess storage needs, and identify solutions to the current storage problems on farms. To date, we have conducted an online survey of farms to assess their use of season extension practices including tunnels and storage facilities. In addition, we have planned a series of High Tunnel workshops for 2015 to begin Feb. 9, 2015 at Good Life Farm. All workshops will be taking place on farms and involve both farmer and faculty specialist instructors.

Objectives/Performance Targets

This project has 3 components:

-assess current and potential producer capacity for early/late season production and provide technical assistance to improve capacity

-identify storage needs and options in existing facilities – develop leasing agreements and on-line reservation system

-link producers and buyers thru farmer-buyer networking to increase wholesale sales


Methods used include – surveys, interviews, workshops, and technical assistance.

-A producer survey was developed to assess farmer use of season extension technology (high tunnels and cold storage); survey was sent electronically to our farmer lists (using Qualtrix) – emailed link 9/3 – final reminder sent in early October.

A total of 23 farms responded to the survey including vegetable, berry and tree crop producers.

The survey revealed that 65% of the respondents were using some high tunnels for crop production.

A lower number, only 28% indicated they has sufficient cold storage facilities.

-In person conversations were initiated with operators of various cold storage facilities (Regional, Greenstar, Cornell) to get baseline info on space availability.

-The project team started planning workshops for winter 2015. To date we have a full year line up of high tunnel programming geared at experienced farmers. We took some steps to plan the workshops on cold storage but are finding difficulty recruiting a qualified speaker, therefore the timing of cold storage workshops is a bit off season….ideally we would have wanted to begin earlier in fall.

-No technical assistance to date.


The grant contract was finalized in June 2014 – the delay resulting in the shift from project management by Kat Loeck, who left her position with CCE Tioga County and therefore required that the grant be reassigned and managed by Tompkins County CCE. Monika Roth and Matt LeRoux are both part of the project team and are taking over project management and implementation. In December 2014, a new regional specialist was hired who will now become part of the project team.


– Informal outreach to farmers and cold storage facility managers.

-Toured the new Finger Lakes Fresh Food Hub to look at the storage facilities there.

-Learned that Groundswell Center for Local Food & Farming was considering hosting an intensive course on high tunnels…so we reached out to them about co-sponsoring the series. Since then we have been working together to plan the high tunnel series of workshops.



-Assembled a project team that now includes: Monika Roth, Matt LeRoux, Michele Kline (our new area vegetable & fruit specialist started in Dec. 2014), Aaron Munzer (farmer cooperator), Dean Koyanagi (farmer cooperator), and Melissa Madden (farmer cooperator).


-Project team meeting was held on Sept. 2, to discuss the project components.  

 -Survey developed and sent to farmers (Matt LeRoux).


-Survey reminder sent.

-Survey summary prepared by Avi Miner.

 -Planning for high tunnel classes.

 -Discussed the idea of hosting a cooler construction workshop using Coolbot technology but for various reasons, decided it was too late in the season to move ahead with this.

 -Attempted to contact Steve Beylea, Maine about coming to FL to give a storage talk but have been unable to reach him by email or phone. Tried several other university contacts to seek a speaker (still working on it).


 Final high tunnel class planning to engage CU faculty speakers and farmers.

Preliminary publicity and sign up.

Since the project just got underway in September, we have accomplished the following:

-a survey of the farm community to assess use of high tunnel and cold storage technology and needs (23 responses)

-planned a full year programming focused on high tunnel production for 2015 (kick off session on Feb. 9 with monthly workshops to follow at farms)

-working on cold storage programming next

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes



Matt LeRoux
CCE Educator
CCE Tompkins County
615 Willow Ave.
Ithaca, NY 14850
Office Phone: 6072722292
Steve Holzbaur
General Manager
Finger Lakes Fresh Food Hub
210 Gerald Moses Drive
Groton, NY 13073
Office Phone: 6072791204
Doug Newman
Buried Treasure Organic Farm
808 Clark St. Extension
Groton, NY 13073
Office Phone: 6072204044
Avi Miner
CCE Educator
CCE Tompkins County
615 Willow Ave.
Ithaca, NY 14850
Office Phone: 6072722292
Sharon Tregaskis
Treegate Farm
1401 Mecklenburg Rd
Ithaca, NY 14850
Office Phone: 6073420012
Jenny Caldwell
Crooked Carott CSK
344 West King Rd.
Ithaca, NY 14850
Office Phone: 6072803652
Aaron Munzer
Plowbreak Farm
6200 Deer Run Lane
Trumansburg, NY 14850
Office Phone: 8455947126
Dean Koyanagi
Treegate Farm
1401 Mecklenburg Rd
Ithaca, NY 14850
Office Phone: 6072278797
Dana Stafford
General Manager
Regional Access
1609 Trumansburg Rd.
Ithaca, NY 14850
Office Phone: 6073195150
Stephen Belyea
Dept of Ag
Maine Dept of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry
18 Elkins Lane
27 State House Station
August, ME 04553
Office Phone: 2077642105
Tony Mazolino
Marz Farm
3624 Wilson Creek Rd.
Berkshire, NY 14850
Office Phone: 6076578534