[Market-farming] Hi Tunnel innovations

Richard Stewart rstewart at zoomtown.com
Mon Jan 18 17:35:32 EST 2016

We have a single Rough Bros.  gothic high tunnel.  Your high tunnel is only as strong as it’s end walls when it comes to high winds.  Our high tunnel does fine in high winds (65MPH constant with 80 MPH gusts is about as high as we have seen…and I will admit I was worried).  The low tunnels though, well they seem to always get stripped and 9 out of ten times it was because of crappy end walls.  We just went did away with low tunnels after not really seeing a return for the cost.  This year we were harvesting unprotected greens in the outdoors the first week in January.   We moved to doing more root crops that and greens that can handle colder multiple freezes.  When a bad one is headed our way we bring in extra help and bulk harvest our root crops till we cannot have no more room to store.  We harvest dirt and all and then wash.  We are still selling roots from 2015 even though it is 3F tonight.

We’ve been playing around with stuff like Kohlrabi greens which seem even more freeze tolerant/resistant than Kale and spinach.  Wonderful stuff.  Everything you do with Kale you do with Kohlrabi.  We also have some late season oddities like crosnes which we are in a our third year of experimenting with.  I think 2016 we are going to have a pretty large crop.  Premium price for a rare crop that has ZERO competition from Sysco and U.S. Foods.  Great to pickle and great to pan fry and crisp like garlic…or sun chokes.

We also dry a LOT of our herbs throughout the season and do tea mixes and dried herb packs, dipping oil mixes, and the like.  Ohio’s cottage food laws are fairly liberal and permit those as direct sales, farmers markets, and places that are retail storefronts but an extension of the FM, like Findlay Market’s Dirt Store.

I think if things are done properly, you can get by with very little high tunnel.  Not to say I don’t appreciate them, I love ours, but I also like keeping it as simple as possible.

Richard Stewart
Carriage House Farm
North Bend, Ohio

An Ohio Century Farm Est. 1855

(513) 967-1106
rstewart at zoomtown.com

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