Learn everything you ever wanted to know about using high tunnels

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WOOSTER, Ohio – Want to extend your growing and marketing seasons? Protect your crops from cold, wind and rain plus certain pests and diseases? Make more money in the process? High tunnels can help you.
Learn the basics of this increasingly popular season-extension option in an introductory half-day course offered by Ohio State University specialists on six different dates at six different locations throughout Ohio.
The basics. High Tunnels 101 is an opportunity for vegetable, fruit and flower growers interested in season-extension tools and techniques to learn the basics of high tunnels: how they work, where to buy them, how to build them, their benefits, drawbacks and other key information.
“High-tunnel production can help a farm’s bottom line and provide consumers with local foods over a longer period of the year,” said course co-organizer Matt Kleinhenz, an OSU Extension vegetable specialist with the university’s Department of Horticulture and Crop Science.
“High-tunnel production is on the rise, but it isn’t for everyone. Growers who are considering it have many questions before or soon after they start. We’re trying to address these questions in High Tunnels 101.”
High tunnels – unheated, plastic-covered, relatively inexpensive structures – can grow lots of food on little land, can do it nearly 12 months out of the year even in the upper Midwest and need less-expensive equipment compared to larger-scale, open-field farming methods.
Brad Bergefurd, a horticulturist with the OSU South Centers at Piketon and co-organizer of High Tunnels 101, said the program will be useful to a wide range of new and experienced growers.
Different. “High tunnels are different from open fields and greenhouses,” Bergefurd explained.
“In the course, we’ll emphasize how high tunnels can fit different types of farms: small and large, mechanized and less mechanized, conventional and organic, fruit, vegetable and flower. The course will also be appropriate for semicommercial growers, master gardeners and students.”
Information presented during each half-day workshop will be nearly the same, including targeted lectures, question-and-answer periods and informal discussions on a variety of topics. But the instructors said information would be presented in a way that allows for personal attention, whether participants are would-be or just-started high-tunnel users.
Experienced high-tunnel users, meanwhile, are encouraged to check out programs scheduled at the Ohio Fruit and Vegetable Growers Congress, Jan. 15-17 in Sandusky, and at the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association annual conference, Feb. 16-18 in Granville.
Registration. Preregistration for High Tunnels 101 is encouraged. To preregister, choose a location from the six listed; contact the person handling registration at that site; and send a check or money order payable to The Ohio State University for $20 to the program contact.
Do not send cash. Please provide your name, address and phone number. On-site registration is subject to seating availability and costs $25.
For more information on the program, contact Kleinhenz at 330-263-3810, kleinhenz.1@osu.edu; Bergefurd at 800-297-2072, ext. 136, bergefurd.1@osu.edu; or Becker at 330-264-8722, becker.4@osu.edu.
Related articles:

Make big bucks on small space (9/27/07)

Growers: High tunnels not just hype (11/23/2006)

High tunnels: Real farmers, real stories (11/23/2006)

High tunnel help – Grow, sell your crops year-round (11/17/2005)

Plasticulture opens doors on the farm (9/16/2004)

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