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NRCS Announces High Tunnel Pilot Study to Increase Availability of Locally Grown

Auburn, Alabama, Jan. 19, 2009

Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist Dr. William Puckett today announced a new pilot project for farmers to establish high tunnels - also known as hoop houses - to increase the availability of locally grown produce in a conservation-friendly way.  Financial assistance is available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

A high tunnel is a greenhouse-like structure, at least six feet in height, and made of ribs of plastic or metal pipe covered with a layer of plastic sheeting.  “High tunnels offer an option to extend the growing season for vegetables and other specialty crops for personal or commercial use," said Puckett. 

They may offer particular advantages to small, limited resource and organic farmers by extending the crop growing season, improving soil and plant quality, and addressing soil and water concerns.  The seasonal tunnel structure must be planned, designed, and constructed in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendation.  Those vegetable crops that are grown directly in mineral soils are eligible.  Crops grown hydroponically or in pots/containers above ground are not eligible.                                                  

NRCS will begin accepting applications immediately for the three year study.  The first signup period will end January 29, 2010.

For information, producers can visit their local NRCS field office listed in the telephone directory under U.S. Department of Agriculture or on-line at http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov.

For details, contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service office.