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News Release

Local Farm Receives Assistance to Extend Growing Season

 

Bangor, ME - May 27, 2011 -- The owner of Maple Springs Farm in Harrison is the recipient of federal funding assistance from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to build a seasonal high tunnel on his farm. Mark Heidmann, proprietor, is excited that he will be able to extend his growing season and increase his yields as a result of this high tunnel addition.

A seasonal high tunnel is a greenhouse-like structure, at least six feet in height, which modifies the climate inside to create more favorable growing conditions for vegetable and other specialty crops grown in the natural soil beneath it. Made of ribs of metal pipe covered with a layer of plastic sheeting, high tunnels are easy to build, maintain and move. Participating farms can receive funding for a maximum area of 2,178 square feet. Through the USDA NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program, funding for these seasonal high tunnels is being made available through a pilot study to test the potential conservation benefits of growing under these structures. This is the second year of the three-year study.

Maple Springs Farm was established in 1998. The first several years were spent in building two greenhouses, gradually expanding the plantings over about six acres, building the foundation for healthy soil, and establishing the initial plants of crops such as perennial flowers, raspberries and apples. Heidmann opened the farm for retail business in 2002. They use three main criteria for choosing their vegetable and fruit crops: beauty, flavor and diversity; therefore, they carefully select varieties from many sources. In addition to selling his produce at local farmers markets, they offer Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) memberships.

The new high tunnel will measure 30 feet by 96 feet, or 2,880 square feet; 2,178 square feet will be funded through NRCS, but the entire structure will be maintained to NRCS standards and specifications.

"I'm very grateful for this grant," said Heidmann. "It will allow us to increase the amounts of high quality produce we offer to our retail and restaurant customers, and will enable us to offer that produce earlier in spring and later into the fall. It provides a sort of insurance against some of the effects of cool wet summers like we often get around here." Heidmann said that the entire staff of the NRCS office in Scarborough was helpful throughout the process and thanks them for their highly professional guidance through the application process.

For more information on Maple Springs Farm, visithttp://maplespringsfarm.wordpress.com/

Since 1935, NRCS has provided leadership in a partnership effort to help America's private land owners and managers conserve their soil, water, and other natural resources. NRCS employees provide technical assistance based on sound science and that is suited to a customer's specific needs, and provides financial assistance for many conservation activities.

For more information on NRCS and its programs, visit www.me.nrcs.usda.gov.  Interested producers should visit their local USDA Service Center to determine program eligibility. USDA Service Centers are listed online at http://offices.usda.gov, or in the telephone book under United States Government, Agriculture Department.


National Environmental Quality Incentives Program Website

Maine Environmental Quality Incentives Program Website

 

 

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