Click to download season extension guide!
Season Extension Infographic (pdf)
Our Season Extension class got a hands-on experience in moving a high tunnel as part of Day Three's activities!
Alisa DeMarco is the executive chef at Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery in Champaign, IL. On a sunny day at the end of July 2015, we interviewed Alisa about the work she does to extend the season at the farm. The peach harvest was getting into full swing and pick-your-own customers had just left the orchard. Alisa walked through to harvest the 'seconds' that customers did not pick, explaining along the way how Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery gets the most out of every crop. She then took the harvest into the farm's commercial kitchen, where she explained the peach preserving process. She also explained how they market their value-added fruit products both directly and through their many on-farm events, how they are able to gain profit from a crop that is otherwise unusable, and why season extension is important to the farm as a business..
Lorien Carsey is the farm manager and winter farmer at Blue Moon Farm in Urbana, IL. Signs of spring were just beginning to show when we interviewed Lorien in late March 2015. Lorien gave us a tour of the farm's ten high tunnels and explained their extensive production system, which grows a variety of crops for local retail and wholesale markets throughout the year. Bed preparation for their high tunnel tomatoes was well underway, which they can have producing by June thanks to a unique mobile heating solution. She also explained their process for moving their mobile high tunnels, how she chooses crops for their different styles of tunnels, and why season extension is so important to their labor force and to their business as a whole.
Marty Gray is the co-owner of Gray Farms Produce. in Watseka, IL. We interviewed him on an icy day in February 2015, just as his protected crops were beginning to put on new growth with the lengthening days. Marty took us through his high tunnels and indicated the many pieces of equipment and infrastructure that must come together along with good timing and planning to make high tunnel production work. He also discussed his many crop choices, showed us some of his crop storage solutions, and explained how he has overcome the many challenges of intense winds. Finally, he discussed how season extension has been an intrinsic part of his business from the beginning, how he would like to do more winter farming so that he can guarantee employment for his loyal team, and how he markets his crops through winter markets and online ordering.
Also, check out this blog post explaining why farmers should consider incorporating season extension.
TLC Guides and Graphics
A Guide To Season Extension (pdf) produced by The Land Connection
High Tunnels, Low Tunnels, and Greenhouses
Online guides and resources
Growing Under High Tunnels in Illinois and the Midwest - University of Illinois Extension
Hightunnels.org – many, many resources here
High Tunnel (pdf) - University of Vermont, a definitive, if somewhat outdated, resource
High Tunnel Construction Demonstration - From Rutgers University, a detailed slideshow
University of Kentucky High Tunnel Research Facility – ongoing research with updates
Mother of a Hubbard – winter production on a small-scale, especially with low tunnels
Building a Hoop House, a YouTube series by Adam Montri of Michigan State University
Johnny’s Selected Seeds – Tools and Calculators
The Michigan State University Hoophouse Website – lots of good resources here, but useful especially for the many schedules and estimators available
Four-Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman
The Market Gardener by Jean-Martin Fortier
The Northlands Greenhouse Manual by Carol Ford and Chuck Waibel
The Hoophouse Handbook by Lynn Byczynski
Online guides and resources
Production Guide for Storage of Organic Fruits and Vegetables (pdf) - Rutgers University
Walk-in Coolers for Winter Storage - Northeast SARE
An Introduction to Root Cellars, Maine Farmers and Gardeners Association
Quick Reference for Storage Needs of Different Crops - University of Missouri Extension
Basics of Root Cellar Storage (video) - Tractor Supply Company
Build an Underground Root Cellar by Phyllis Hobson
The Complete Root Cellar Book by Steve Maxwell and Jennifer McKenzie
Value Addition and Processing of Specialty Crops
Online Guides and Resources
Food Preservation Manuals University of Minnesota Extension
The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz
Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving by Lauren Devine
This page is updated periodically. Keep checking back for new season extension resources!