If you are a current commercial fruit or vegetable grower, a gardener with an interest in expanding into commercial production, or a traditional farmer interested in diversifying, you may want to learn more about high tunnel production in a workshop sponsored by Iowa State University Extension and the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. Two, 7-hour, in-depth workshops are being offered this fall and winter.
“Like all farmers, fruit and vegetable growers attempt to get the greatest yields of high quality crops from their land,” said Linda Naeve, program coordinator, Value Added Agriculture Program at Iowa State University Extension. “This requires careful planning and using the right tools and strategies. Producing high value crops in high tunnels are one way in which growers can increase their production in a limited space.”
High tunnels are inexpensive, simple, passive-solar greenhouses in which crops are grown directly in the soil. They allow growers to extend the season and produce high yields of quality produce earlier than field-grown crops, thus commanding a higher price at market.
Topics to be covered at the workshop include site and high tunnel selection, construction, soil management, irrigation, pest management, bed design and cropping systems and business plan development. The same workshop will be help at two different times in different locations.
Workshop dates and locations include:
Sept. 29 and Oct. 1, 6:00 – 9:30 p.m., both evenings, at the Iowa State University Horticulture Research Farm, north of Ames
Jan. 5 and 6, 2010, 6:00 – 9:30 p.m., both evenings, at the Armstrong Research and Demonstration Farm near Lewis, Iowa
Pre-registration is required by e-mailing or calling Linda Naeve at 515-294-8946 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The registration deadline for the fall workshop is Sept. 15. Fees for the workshop are $30/person or $50/couple, which includes a training manual/workbook and refreshments.
Funds for this project are part of a two-year Leopold Center competitive grant. Earlier research, also funded by the Leopold Center, showed that certain high-value crops could be profitable for growers.
Established by the 1987 Iowa Groundwater Protection Act, the Leopold Center supports the development of profitable farming systems that conserve natural resources. More information about the Leopold Center is available on the web at: www.leopold.iastate.edu, or by calling the Center at (515) 294-3711.