September 3, 2008
Contact: Amy Ivy, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Clinton County, 518-561-7450

Back by Popular Demand, More High Tunnel Workshops Set for September 15, 21

A series of high tunnel production workshops has proven so successful that four more free workshops are planned for September 15 and 21. The farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program has provided funding for the workshops that feature speakers from Cornell University as well as the host growers sharing their experiences with using the unheated growing structures to produce vegetables, fruit and flowers.

Monday, September 15 Workshop Features Cornell IPM Specialist
On Monday, September 15 from 5 to 6:30 pm at Kent Family Farms, 1200 Route 184, Heuvelton, NYS Integrated Pest Management Specialist Elizabeth “Betsy” Lamb of the NYS IPM Program at Cornell University will speak about how to use good bugs to control bad bugs on plants in high tunnels.

Lamb says, “There are many options for biocontrol that both are doable and worthwhile. There are personal and economic advantages to using IPM. High tunnels are often used by growers who are interested in reducing or eliminating pesticide and marketing their products to consumers interested in “green” or “naturally-raised” products.”

At Kent Family Farms in Heuvelton, Dan and Megan Kent say their high tunnel has provided habitat for beneficial insects that help control the unwanted crop pests. The Kents grow tomatoes, early peppers and beans and late brassicas for their subscription CSA members, the Canton Farmers Market and a few wholesalers. Dan Kent says “We have developed a crop rotation over the past two for our high tunnel that works for us and our markets. We are constantly learning the nuances about where to plant each crop in the tunnel and how to vent it.”

Three High Tunnel Workshops Set for September 21
A series of three workshops featuring Cornell University high tunnel specialist H. Christian Wien will take place on Sunday, September 21. The 90-minute workshops are scheduled for:
• 11am at Bonesteel’s Garden Center, Route 11 west of Malone
• 1:30-3:30pm at Campbell’s Greenhouse, Cringle Road, Saranac
• 4-5:30pm at Rehobeth Homestead, 66 Jabez Allen Road, Peru.

Wien, a professor of horticulture at Cornell University, will answer questions on high tunnel design and construction; and wind and temperature management. Wien says, “Just putting a sheet of clear plastic over plants can profoundly affect many aspects of plant growth and performance.”

Wien says he expects the use of high tunnels in New York to return a gain of $500,000 per year in the farm-gate value of the state’s horticultural crops by 2010.

At Bonesteel’s Gardening Center in Malone, Bruce Bonesteel starts seeds in March and harvests flowers and vegetables through November. In 2008, he started growing some of his crops in trays and pails instead of in the ground in his three high tunnels. He says, “The trick with high tunnels is getting the watering right. We are working toward an automated system. We are pleased to be part of the September 21 tour because it pays to go around and look and learn from other growers.”

At Campbell’s Greenhouse in Saranac, Ken Campbell likes his six high tunnels because “for sure I will get a good crop with the ability to control the amount of water and temperature and not be subject to the elements such as all the rain this year. The tunnels are inexpensive and they are a great investment.”

At Rehoboth Homestead in Peru, Beth Spaugh-Barber uses high tunnels to organically produce early tomatoes and fall/winter salad crops.

“I put our chickens in for a week between tomatoes and salad greens to clean up seeds and bugs. At the open house, I will set up row cover supports to show how I use cover inside the tunnel to protect the greens from the extreme cold outside. Research shows that it may get no colder than 17 degrees F under the row cover even when it is below zero outside,” Spaugh says.

Open house co-organizer Amy Ivy of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Clinton County says, “Growing certain types of produce and cut flowers makes good sense in the North Country. The tunnels extend our short growing season by several weeks and reduce disease problems by keeping rain off the plants. More and more calls are coming in to Extension offices around our region for information and those who are already using high tunnels love them. These open house events provide an excellent opportunity to learn first hand from Cornell specialists and regional growers.”

For more information on the high tunnel workshops, contact your local Cornell Cooperative Extension office. More information and resources for farmers are posted on the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program website at www.nnyagdev.org.  # # #