In partnership with Future Harvest CASA and VSU Extension Specialists
The Eastern Shore Resource Conservation and Development Council (ES RC&D) has teamed up with a powerful team of experts from Future Harvest CASA and VSU Extension to present an intensive two-day, hands-on workshop on construction of high tunnels. The construction of the high tunnel will take place on a small re-emerging family farm in Birdsnest, VA in Northampton County. The program will include a ½-day classroom presentation on the Production of Specialty Crops in High Tunnels, as well as a presentation about financial assistance available from USDA.
THIS WORKSHOP WAS PRESENTED IN 2015 IN MARYLAND AND SOLD OUT AT $100 A PERSON. Thanks to funding by a USDA/VDACS Specialty Crop Grant, the RC&D is able to present the workshop for the special rate of only $50 per person which includes lunch and refreshments for both days. Participation is limited and we expect this to sell out quickly. Some scholarships are available for members of underserved communities including veterans, African Americans and Hispanics.*
What: Two-Day Hands-On High Tunnel Workshop
Where: Smith Street, Birdsnest, VA 23307 on VA’s Eastern Shore
When: Thursday and Friday, April 7-8, 2016
Presenters: Experts from Future Harvest CASA and VSU
How Much: $50 PER PERSON SPECIAL EASTERN SHORE PRICE!
High tunnels, also known as hoop houses, are plastic-covered greenhouses used for fruit and vegetable production. Their unique design allows growers to extend the growing season giving farmers increased marketing opportunities for commercial fruits and vegetables. High tunnels are frequently used by growers looking to expand production as well as traditional farmers seeking to diversify operations. Backyard growers may use high tunnels to generate part-time supplemental revenue streams or year-round kitchen gardens. No prior high tunnel experience is needed.
Like an old-fashioned barn raising, participants will actually participate in the construction of a 90’ x 20’ high tunnel from the ground up during the two-day the workshop. The program includes a ½ -day classroom presentation and a healthy lunch both days.
Day 1, Thursday, April 7
8:30-1:00 Hands-on Construction
1:30-4:00 Lunch and Classroom Presentation at the nearby Barrier Island Center
Topics covered at the two-day workshop include site preparation, high tunnel selection, pricing, construction techniques, soil management, irrigation, pest management, bed design, cropping systems, environmental control, tools to help growers succeed, new crops to consider, and effects of plastic color.
REGISTRATION INFORMATION: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/two-day-intensive-high-tunnel-workshop-tickets-22074946760
High Tunnel Workshop Presenters
Future Harvest Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture (CASA) Team
Blain Snipstal of Black Dirt Farm in Preston, Maryland will be heading up the Future Harvest Construction Team. In addition to being a full time urban/rural farmer and establishing a rural farm cooperative on what was formerly Harriet Tubmann’s land in Maryland, Blain has developed a hoop house construction business and has recently built 11 hoop houses for the District of Columbia.
Aleya Fraser, Future Harvest CASA’s New Eastern Shore Program Manager, farmer and community organizer will also be on site throughout the program. She has managed an urban farm in Baltimore (5 Seeds Farm) and co-managed a larger farm on rural land in Preston, MD (Black Dirt Farm Collective) using agroecological practices. During her Future Harvest training, Aleya interned on Two Boots Farm in northern MD and spent weekends working in a greenhouse in Frederick, MD.
VSU’s Small Farm Outreach, Training and Technical Assistance Team
Chris Mullins has been an Extension Specialist at Virginia State University since 1999. His main area of responsibility is research and education in commercial vegetable production, particularly high tunnels for season extension and greenhouses. He has also been directly involved with construction and retrofitting of approximately 80,000 square feet of greenhouse space in several different regions of Virginia.
Dr. Reza Rafie is a Horticulture Extension Specialist with Virginia State University. His current research and extension interest is working with high-value specialty vegetables and small fruits. Dr. Rafie takes a marketing approach in identifying crops with proven market trend potential that will ultimately help the growers’ bottom line. He has many years of international experience and in the past has worked with privately-owned fresh fruit and vegetable companies.
Patrick Johnson, VSU Eastern Shore Small Farm Outreach Specialist. Another invaluable resource for local growers, Patrick holds a Master’s Degree in Sustainable Development From Cornell University in NY and is an experienced urban farmer. He is available to provide one-on-one advice and assistance to local growers.
The Location: A Re-Emerging Family Farm
Our Host Farmer: Beginning Farmer Thelonius Cook is reclaiming what was once a family farm producing ornamentals and cut flowers for local retail sale. After many years of allowing the land to be farmed by a local wheat/soy grower, Thelonius has begun the process of reestablishing the 7.5-acres as a working family farm. He plans to start growing specialty crops on small parcels and in hoop houses, slowly expanding and eventually building a house and other buildings on site.
In addition to earning a Master’s Degree in Practicing Sustainable Development from Royal Holloway University of London in the UK, Thelonius has spent 2 and a half years in Africa…one year in Tanzania and one in Ethiopia working as an ICT Specialist for an international relief and development organization. Upon returning to the States, he completed Future Harvest CASA’s one year Beginning Farmer Training Program, during which time he apprenticed at Colchester Farm in MD. He has enrolled in NRCS’s Transition to Organic program and has been developing business plans for his new vision of the family farm as one day becoming what he has named the Mighty Thurdercloud Edible Forest.
Butch Nottingham, Marketing Manager, Virginia Department of Agricultural Consumer Services (VDACS)
Jane Corson-Lassiter District Conservationist, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will both be on hand at the Barrier Island Center classroom presentation to provide information and first-hand advice about USDA financial assistance available.
*For scholarship information contact Josephine Mooney at 757-710-7266 or by email at: email@example.com.
This program is sponsored by a USDA/VDACS Specialty Crop Grant.
The Eastern Shore of Virginia Resource Conservation and Development Council (ES RC&D) is a not-for-profit organization created by the federal government in 1964. The all-volunteer Council works to improve, enhance and preserve the quality of life on the Eastern Shore by educating the community and protecting natural resources.