Do Right and Feed Everyone
"Do right and feed everyone." This is the mission of the USDA, according to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.
Seasonal high tunnel greenhouses help growers extend the season so they are able to feed people earlier in spring and later in fall. When used well, tunnels help growers do right and feed folks.
From left to right: Volunteers Ben Currotto, Rowland Russell, Tony Malloy, Pat Clark, and Dave Zimmerman
In 2017, Ben Currotto with Antioch University New England’s Community Garden Connections submitted an application for a Natural Resources Conservation Service Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) grant to construct a seasonal high tunnel. Unfortunately, the initial application came late in the funding cycle and didn’t get funded.
(Rachel Brice and Manuel Diaz Gonzalez planning for irrigation in November 2017)
In 2018, the new Garden Manager Rachel Brice followed up on the application for financial assistance for a seasonal high tunnel via the EQIP grant. She also added irrigation to the plan.
High tunnel full of tomatoes in July 2018
Brice praises all the amazing volunteers that helped erect the tunnel. Funds from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) made the purchase of materials possible. Volunteers built the tunnel. The time commitment to put up a tunnel is significant. Pound posts, bolt bows, keep it square… it all takes time. It takes a team and a day without wind to pull plastic over the frame. A completed tunnel growing crops is a beautiful sight. The harvest has increased in amount and quality since construction of the tunnel. Irrigation in the tunnel allows for more control on water.
Ben Currotto and Antioch University faculty Libby McCann February 2017
The outside gardens will have irrigation installed this spring to help plants thrive in the up and down of drought conditions. The gardens have always been watered by hand. The irrigation system, if set up with timers, will help plants get more water at the best times to help plants thrive.
Folks who frequent The Community Kitchen benefit with all the food from the garden going to “Do Right and Feed Everyone”.
Written by: Mary Ellen Cannon
NRCS Soil Conservationist