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Project update provided by Ami Erickson – Dean of Agriculture and Technology – Northern Wyoming Community College District, Sheridan, WY: email@example.com
"We constructed two (12-ft x 32-ft straight hoop style) high tunnels last summer. Jeff Edwards facilitated the first workshop, held on June 3-5, 2011. The second workshop, held on July 7-9, was facilitated by Sheridan College horticulture student, Berva Brock and Dean of Ag, Ami Erickson, who used all they learned from Jeff to teach another group of community members how to build a high tunnel. In total 15 Sheridan-area community members and Sheridan College students participated in the workshops.
The first high tunnel was used by Sheridan College horticulture student, Lacey Fisher, to experiment on companion plantings and extended season harvest. This next growing season we hope to use the two high tunnels for youth garden and other educational activities."
What have you learned from growing in the High Tunnel?
The high tunnels significantly extend the growing season past the first fall frost, allowing for tomatoes, squash and other late season crops to have a chance to mature before harvest. Brassicas also seem to do well in the high tunnels.
What are some of the benefits you have identified of working in a HT?
The extended growing season is the biggest benefit, but there also seems to be a benefit to water use. Irrigation is fairly localized within the high tunnel and can be more localized with the use of drip line. Evaporation appears to be lower within the high tunnel than evaporation from traditional cropping systems, resulting in reduced water-use and extended time between watering.
What issues/challenges have you discovered with the HT?
Limited space for large crops or large plants will limit how much produce can be grown. Peppers and tomatoes were not very productive during the hottest months of the season.
Would you recommend a High Tunnel (HT) to others?
How has the design held up in Wyoming conditions (have you identified any issues)?
So far, so good. Snow slides right off, and the wind has not had a significant effect. We do need to identify a better way to latch the high tunnel doors.
Are you producing even during the cold winter months?
Not yet, but I think this winter would have been conducive for colder crops such as spinach and Swiss chard.
Do you provide tours to others who may be interested in the structures?
Yes, and the high tunnels are located next to the community gardens, so that area gardeners can see how they are used.
If you provide tours, how many people have taken a look at it?
Approximately 20 tours
Can you tell me if the workshop has had an impact on the surrounding community – have others started building them? If so how many HT’s are in your community?
Workshop participants and other community members have expressed interest in building their own high tunnels. One community gardener constructed a temporary high tunnel in her plot, which had very positive affect on her tomato production.
Tell me your story:
"The two high tunnels were built relatively easily, allowing community members and Sheridan College students, who will one day (sooner than later) be involved in agriculture business, gain experience and knowledge in the construction and use of high tunnels for growing specialty crops and extending the growing season. The high tunnels will continue to be used to educate our community and students on best practices related to vegetable production, and with the hiring of our new Sustainable Food System‘s instructor, Connie Fisk, more workshops and activities related to high tunnel production will be offered at Sheridan College. Although, there is not an immediate impact on our local economy, the potential of utilizing our high tunnels for youth garden and college student activities, as well as exposing our local growers to the benefits of high tunnels, will lead to more diversity of crops to be sold at our local farmer’s market and possibly other markets.
Sheridan College offers a robust agriculture program to support the educational and career goals of our students and to provide educational opportunities to our community. Our programs include Horticulture & Sports Turf Management, Sustainable Food Systems, Natural Resources and Ranch Land Management, Agricultural Business, Agricultural Science, Animal Science and Farrier Science."