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Funding available to help farmers extend the growing season while protecting natural resources - NRCS High Tunnel Pilot Program

Funding Available to Help Farmers Extend the Growing Season While Protecting Natural Resources - NRCS High Tunnel Pilot Program

Warwick, RI (January 6, 2010) � The U.S. Department of Agriculture�s NaturalA High Tunnel Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced a new pilot project under the 'Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food' initiative for farmers to establish high tunnels - also known as hoop houses - to increase the availability of locally grown produce in a conservation-friendly way.

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. This pilot will test the potential conservation benefits of growing crops under these structures.  High tunnels in the study are limited to 2,187 square feet per applicant.

Local farmers who would like to sign-up for the high tunnel pilot should call or visit the NRCS office at a local USDA service center by February 15, 2010. USDA service center locations are listed on-line at or in the phone book under Federal Government, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

To access application materials, please visit the Web site or contact the Rhode Island State Office at (401) 822-8848.  Completed applications must be postmarked by the close of business, February 15, 2010.  Additional general program information is available on the NRCS Rhode Island Web site

�Rhode Island is one of 38 states participating in a three-year study.  This special pilot program is particularly applicable to organic farms, small-scale farms, and farms that grow specialty crops for sale at local farmers� markets in Rhode Island,� said Phoukham Vongkhamdy, State Conservationist for NRCS in Rhode Island.

Made of ribs of plastic or metal pipe covered with a layer of plastic sheeting, high tunnels are easy to build, maintain and move. High tunnels are used year-round in parts of the country, providing steady incomes to farmers - a significant advantage to owners of small farms, limited-resource farmers and organic producers.

NRCS will provide financial assistance for the project through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) High Tunnel Pilot Project Program.

Participating states and territories are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Pacific Islands, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture that helps people conserve, maintain, and improve our natural resources and environment.
More information on high tunnels is located below.

These documents require Acrobat Reader.

Community Garden Guide Season Extension - Hoop Houses. (PDF; 168 KB) by Dave Burgdorf and Tom Cogger, NRCS Plant Materials Center, East Lansing, MI. February, 2005. 5p. Rev. Mar 2009 (ID# 5923) Hoop houses are small, semi-portable structures that can be used as a small greenhouse structure for starting seedlings and for growing heat-loving vegetables.

Community Garden Guide Season Extension - High Tunnel. (PDF; 213 KB) by Dave Burgdorf and Tom Cogger, NRCS Plant Materials Center, East Lansing, MI. February, 2005. 6p. Rev. Mar 2009 (ID# 5922). A High Tunnel is a greenhouse-like structure which modifies the climate to create more favorable growing conditions for vegetable plants.

Program Contact:

Mike Kenyon
Asst. State Conservationist for Field Operations

Media Contact:

Walter Marshall
Public Affairs Specialist