Small Farms Reaping the Benefits of Seasonal High Tunnels
It’s hard to believe anything can grow in a place that bears the official nickname of Hardware City. But grow it can!
Urban Oaks is a small, certified organic, CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm located in
New Britain, Connecticut. Some of their specialties include heirloom tomatoes, Thai Dragon peppers, and Red Kuri squash (all of which have been mentioned in Yankee Magazine as one of Connecticut’s Best Attractions). Besides the farm, Urban Oaks also has a year round farm store where they sell baked goods, flowers, herbs, honey, bedding plants, and vegetables. They are also a supplier to area restaurants.
In 2011, Farm Manager Mike Kandefer contacted NRCS. He applied and received funding for a seasonal high tunnel through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. The purpose of which is to extend the growing season for several months.
Although this is the first go-round for Urban Oaks, they couldn’t be happier. “Spinach production has been fantastic,” says Kandefer. “We planted the first crop around the second week of October with anticipation of harvesting in January. We have been picking since Thanksgiving and so far have harvested about 370 lbs. This seasonal high tunnel has really helped us out!”
Kandefer is already thinking about this summer and is planning on planting cucumbers and bell peppers inside the tunnel, as well as perennial herbs and flowers along the outside base.
For a small grower such as Urban Oaks, an extended season can mean a big difference in farm income and the ability to keep workers employed for longer periods of time.