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NRCS High Tunnel

 
Mark Brady
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Hi Grant,

I'm gearing up to propose the NRCS High Tunnel program to my family on our 1,500 acres of shared farm land in Chatsworth, Illinois (Central IL).

How do I maximize the grant and quality of the high tunnel for versatility?
Are there any High Tunnel providers you recommend?
Any other tips would be greatly appreciated.

P.S.
Is it ridiculous that I have a Nut Broom and roll up buckets of acorns from roadside 100+ year Burr Oaks for my four Red Wattle pigs?? The pigs are currently on 1 acre of pasture while I develop a plan (fencing, transport) to get them rotating under old Oaks.

Thanks,
Mark Brady
 
Dan Grubbs
Posts: 501
Location: northwest Missouri, USA
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Mark, I certainly won't speak for Grant here, but I can speak about my experience with the EQIP High Tunnel Program.

In another thread in these forums I explained that many of the case workers in your counties who submit your EQIP HTP application will not speak permaculture language. It was my experience, as a grant awardee, that I needed to write my farm plan using language most contemporary farmers would use, not ecoagriculture farmers. As an example, my county person didn't know what a swale was or understand energy flows or a thousand other terms permies take for granted. So, my farm plan was a translation of my design plan using terms such as silvopasture and alley cropping and terracing. Remember, it's kind of a competitive program because you're county might have several people asking for a grant in any given federal budget year. You have to have a good plan. I will also add, that my application was enhanced by the fact that I'm a military veteran and considered by the USDA a first-time farmer. Both of these factors are emphases in their programs. Meeting with my county case worker multimple times and even taking her out to the site and explaining things helped her have a clearer picture of what I was talking about in her office.

As far as what I would do in my high tunnel, I basically outlined my planting plan which included many common veg and herbs that many market farmers produce. Remember, the goal of the program is to help operators extend their growing seasons for commercial purposes. I also explained how I was taking the location for the high tunnel, which was producing _____ and will convert it to a more marketable mix of crops. I chuckled because I wanted to use some raised beds in the high tunnel and my county case worker was not confident that that approach would qualify for reimbursement. I decided not to argue with her and acquiesce to her conservative interpretation of what will qualify ... remember, we're talking about an $8,000-$10,000 structure that I can't fund myself. I'm floating this expense and have to be reimbursed.

I selected a manufacturer that I'm very pleased with for my high tunnel. I don't have any stake in the company I purchased the unit from. The sales organization was helpful and guided me through the process and answered all my questions ... which were many and always flowing. Shipping was handled professionally. The quality of the unit itself is top flight. I'm very glad I went with the heaver tubular steel compared to a few other manufacturers. I also went with 4' spacing rather than 6', but trusses ever other frame. The unit is very stiff and sturdy. I could have used a bit better assembly instructions, but once I got into the head of the person who put the instructions together, it was fine. Of note, be sure you understand if your high tunnel comes with the side/end wall lumber or not. I understand some people are surprised when they get their unit and there's no lumber. All in all, I would buy another high tunnel from this manufacturer, which was Poly-Tex.

Hope all this was helpful. I'm willing to chat off line with anyone who wants to learn more about my experiences being awarded an EQIP grant for a high tunnel.

 
Grant Schultz
Posts: 219
Location: Iowa City, Iowa Zone 5
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Mark Brady wrote:

How do I maximize the grant and quality of the high tunnel for versatility?
Are there any High Tunnel providers you recommend?
Any other tips would be greatly appreciated.



I like Zimmerman Welding out of Missouri. It is a Mennonite shop, and they build the frames for Four Seasons. It's worth getting a trussed high tunnel. I like the 'W' truss models. You can email their sales agent, Dan Healy here: greenhousedan7@gmail.com Tell Dan I sent you!

Rimol is also pretty good bang for the buck.

Farm Tek high tunnels suck. Never, ever buy a Farm Tek. I bought one once and the wind whipped the actual frame apart within a few years, too many sections for each hoop (easy shipability makes a bad building)

Mark Brady wrote:
Any other tips would be greatly appreciated.


Make sure you're recognized as HU and/or Organic Transition when you apply for the Seasonal High Tunnel with EQIP. This offers a significantly higher payment rate.

Mark Brady wrote:Hi Grant,

P.S.
Is it ridiculous that I have a Nut Broom and roll up buckets of acorns from roadside 100+ year Burr Oaks for my four Red Wattle pigs?? The pigs are currently on 1 acre of pasture while I develop a plan (fencing, transport) to get them rotating under old Oaks.


That's awesome and #maxpermo!

 
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