Archive for April, 2011

Mobile High Tunnel Application

Friday, April 15th, 2011

Resilient Northern Habitats:
Mobile High Tunnel Research Project Application

Project Overview:
Resilient Northern Habitats seeks qualitative and quantitative research data on how mobile high tunnels impact small to medium size organic food producers in northern growing zones 3 and 4.

Project Goals:
Data sought:  plant/harvest dates for specific crops, crop yield figures/comparisons, fertility inputs, revenue generation from tunnel, and grower narrative about overall compatibility/feasibility of mobile tunnel technology within organic food operation.

Grower Eligibility:

  • Must not currently own or utilize a mobile high tunnel as part of growing operation
  • At least three years of organic food production sales immediately prior to 2011
  • Must commit to three years of organic food production starting Fall of 2011
  • Must be committed to record-keeping regime as outlined by RNH below
  • Attendance at “tunnel raising” near Amery, Wisconsin in August 2011
  • Prepare @ 36’ x 165’ flat organic field for high tunnel by August 2011
  • Ongoing communication with project coordinator and other participants
  • Must be an operation with less than $1 million in organic food sales

Application:
Please respond cogently as each area is scored by reviewers.
High scorers will be interviewed as finalists.

  1. Tell us about your current organic growing operation — including farm location, field sizes, crop specialties, crop rotations, irrigation techniques and fertilization regime.
  2. Explain your current marketing/sales orientation and business strategy, including specific crop emphasis, markets served, rough monthly sales figures, marketing channels and prospects for expansion or growth.
  3. Explain your current record-keeping practices with regard to crop production, plant and harvest dates, inputs, sales tracking and accounting for production costs.
  4. Describe your experience or understanding about issues involved with growing in a high tunnel in general, and with mobile high tunnel growing in particular — if any.
  5. Describe the layout at your farm vis-a-vis where you would put the mobile high tunnel and its proximity to other farm features.  Include a sketch or aerial view indicating proposed tunnel location and surrounding elements.
  6. Why do you want to be a part of this research project and what do you hope to gain/learn as a result?
  7. Can you commit to an August tunnel raising in Wisconsin, three years of organic food production maximizing the use of a mobile tunnel, record keeping as described below and regular communication with other project participants and RNH staff?

Send complete application or address questions to:  pfhenry@resilientnorthernhabitats.com

Record Keeping Requirements:

  • Plant and harvest dates for specific crops in the mobile high tunnel, including row sizes, plant spacings and days to maturity.
  • Yield amounts on specific high-tunnel crops and assessment of fruit quality, including fruit size and appearance.
  • Specific inputs for soil fertility, whether compost, manure or liquid fertilizer.
  • Revenue generation attributed to tunnel operation, including yield per square foot per week.
  • Summative narrative covering all aspects of using a mobile high tunnel, from maintenance to moving, soil fertility to irrigation, fruit quality to specialty crops.  To be completed after three year trial.

Resilient Northern Habitats takes responsibility for providing standard forms and techniques for gathering data, including a formula for calculating yield per square foot per week.  Our intention is to make data gathering easy, helpful, and a means from which insight can lead to better farming practice.

Agreement:
At time of selection, each participant will be asked to sign an agreement outlining terms for receiving a 30’ x 48’ Four Seasons Tools mobile high tunnel from Resilient Northern Habitats.   In exchange for meeting the agreed upon terms and gathering data as described, participants will be given title to the mobile high tunnel with the understanding that it be used to produce organic food for local consumers and markets, and that they become a resource for other farmers seeking to learn about mobile tunnel technology and techniques.

Mobile High Tunnel Project Unveiled

Friday, April 15th, 2011

For Immediate Release:  Please promulgate to appropriate forums and publications

Mobile High-Tunnel Study Needs Organic Growers

Resilient Northern Habitats, a permaculture-based, for benefit organization, seeks to regenerate local economies through organic food production, revitalized habitat, and collaborative community investment.

As part of its mission, RNH is initiating research into mobile high-tunnel food production in growing zones 3-4.  The project involves the purchase and placement of three 30’ x 48’ mobile high tunnels at existing organic farms to determine their effect on food production, season extension and producer income.

Three experienced organic growers will be selected through a scored application process.  The selected growers will be required to prepare adequate field space at their site for erection of the 30’ x 48’ high-tunnels.  (Note:  with seasonal positions, land requirement is @ 36’ x 165’.)

In August 2011, RNH will sponsor a “tunnel raising” at their farm in western Wisconsin.   Each grower will learn to erect their high-tunnel, and with instruction from experienced high-tunnel grower Mike Bollinger of Decorah, advanced growing tips.

At that point, each grower will receive their 30’ x 48’ high tunnel kit (@ value $12,000), with explicit instructions on data gathering and reporting requirements.  It is expected that each grower utilize the new technology to establish fall/winter crops in 2011 that benefit local consumers and markets.

The research project is envisioned as a three-year study.  The data gathered — planting/ harvesting dates, inputs, production yields and additional farm revenues — will be compiled and published as an article in a prominent national publication.

Upon study’s completion, each participating grower receives title to their high tunnel with the expectation that they integrate it into their farming practice and become a resource for others seeking to do the same.

Responsibilities of the grower:  scrupulous record keeping, observation of reporting deadlines, responsible stewardship of the high tunnel, full commitment to organic nutrient-dense food production on a year around basis.

Responsibilities of Resilient Northern Habitats:  delivery of three 30’ x 48’ mobile high tunnel produced by Four Season Tools of Kansas City, quality instruction in its erection and growing techniques, clear communication of data reporting requirements, eventual publication of study results in appropriate forum.

Applications available at:  www.resilientnorthernhabitats.com

Application Due Date:  June 1st, 2011