Community Supported Agriculture Growth Increases with High Tunnel
With almost a decade of focus on regenerative agriculture under their green thumbs, Mat & Dani of Boerson Farm utilized the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to build seasonal high tunnels that support a more abundant growing season for their Community Supported Agriculture operation.
For 10 growing seasons, Mat and Danielle (Dani) Boerson and their hard-working farm crew has been “committed to organic and sustainable farming practices that heal the land, increase soil organic matter, increase biodiversity and produce whole foods for local communities” (www.boersonfarm.com). Their focus has been on Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and a conservation ethic of regenerative agriculture. Marketing high-quality organic vegetables, eggs and grass-fed beef, Boerson Farm spans 69-acres and wholesales with two local restaurants and has a significant presence at the Oshkosh Saturday Farmers Market. They also maintain an online Farm Store platform where their buyers can customize their orders and select their pick-up location from 4 neighboring cities or choose to pick up directly from the farm.
Recognizing the value and demand for their organic farm fresh produce, the Boerson’s wanted to pursue building seasonal high tunnels to help them manage their vegetable production and ensure more consistent production. They applied for financial assistance through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP), where they also received technical assistance from the Green Lake County NRCS Service Center. “The main benefit of high tunnel systems includes increased plant health and vigor. The system allows the producer to better control the growing environment, extend the growing season and safeguard their crops from variable temperatures, wind, pests, and potential unwanted pollen and pesticide drift,” said Caleb Zahn, NRCS District Conservationist for Green Lake County.
In August 2023, they hosted a Conservation Field Day and served a meal from all on-farm products. The crew of Boerson Farm grow around 45 different crop types, and of these, over 33% are grown in seasonal high tunnels to help maximize the system’s benefits. The high tunnel practice helped them continue to realize their goal of better producing healthy, locally grown food, such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, carrots, celery, herbs and 6 different greens. “Using the high tunnel puts us in a better position to produce a higher quality product, sometimes even better than growing in the field,” said Dani.
With some assistance from NRCS, the Boerson Farm has expanded their high tunnel growing space to 3 separate buildings, allowing them to increase their growing quantity, quality and variety. The completion of an additional multi-purpose building has improved CSA’s farm pick-up system, houses their coolers to keep produce fresh and supports another bank of solar panels that helps offset the farm’s energy usage, and offers a great view of the farm’s prescribed grazing system and the neighboring Green Lake community they serve.
Boerson Farm strives to create a resilient, community-supported operation that makes deep-rooted improvements to the environment by producing certified organic produce and pasture-raised meats using systems that sequester carbon and build soil health. They continue to work with NRCS on their two Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) contracts, implementing a pollinator planting, field border, bale grazing, forage stock piling, and providing technical assistance to set up better prescribed grazing infrastructure on a neighboring property they are looking to lease long-term.