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Posted on July 21, 2021 at 10:02 PM by Nicole Warren
Pierce Conservation District
High Tunnel Systems are extending the growing season and improving farming.
Photo source (NRCS website, 2021).
Blog by Rocio Miller on July 21, 2021
The Benefits of a High Tunnel System.
High Tunnel Systems are an energy-efficient way to start producing crops earlier and grow all season. Whether the grower has vegetables or flowers, having a high tunnel system provides a shelter that improves the plant’s health and vigor and also improves soil health. It eliminates damage to crops because it provides a shelter that protects plants from weather, pests, pesticide drifts, and wildlife. High Tunnel Systems are not permanent structures and can be moved if needed, as they are simple to assemble and disassemble. They are made of steel and covered in polyethylene plastic, or fabric and they are semi-circular, square, or elongated in shape. The Plants can be grown directly in the ground or on raised beds. High tunnels are a structure with a reasonable price tag that require minimal maintenance- providing all those benefits to farmers. They help farmers produce diverse crops such as leafy greens, vegetables, blueberries, cherries, and grapes. Also, by increasing yields, farms can provide more food for local communities year-round.
There is no more waiting for the start of the season to find those yummy blueberries; when you have a high tunnel system, you can have them anytime.
Photo source: Rolling Rocks & Clarks Creek Facebook page.
Local Pierce County farmers are implementing high tunnels systems to provide year-round organic foods for communities.
Farms such as Rolling Rocks in Graham & Clarks Creek Farm in Puyallup have implemented high tunnel systems with the support of the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to provide organic food to the local communities of Washington. Rolling Rocks & Clarks Creek Farms have seen firsthand the benefits of installing a high tunnel system. Not only are they providing more healthy food to the community, but their yields are increasing- providing financial stability the farms need to continue their production year-round. Rolling Rocks & Clarks Creek Farms also play a significant role in conserving natural resources and farmland due to their sustainable farming practices. Implementing new farming methods such as high tunnels, allows them to continue to provide food for future generations.
Photo source NRCS website.
Learn how NRCS helps farmers implement High Tunnel Systems with their High Tunnel System Initiative Program.
A High Tunnel System, commonly called a “hoop house,” is an increasingly popular conservation practice for farmers and is available with financial assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) (NRCS,2021). So, if you are a farmer looking to implement High Tunnel Systems on your farm, NRCS has all the support you need to make it happen. Also, PCD can provide information on who to contact at NRCS to help you with the process.
NRCS Resources links:
High Tunnel System Initiative: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detailfull/national/programs/?cid=stelprdb1046250
Washington EQIP High Tunnel Initiative: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/wa/programs/financial/eqip/?cid=stelprdb1262761
Growing all Season High tunnel systems: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/national/organic/?cid=nrcseprd1364702
NRCS High Tunnel Q/A: https://www.bootstrapfarmer.com/pages/nrcs-high-tunnel-initiative?gclid=Cj0KCQjw6NmHBhD2ARIsAI3hrM1Cm-TuHmq6QA644Irub_vEzWy_w09SUhmA2oGov5iZ07dnleE7HRgaAoy6EALw_wcB
Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/national/programs/initiatives/?cid=nrcs142p2_015532
Rolling Rocks & Clarks Creek Farm links:
Rolling Rocks & Clarks Creek Farms - Home | Facebook
Clark's Creek Farm | Eat Local First
For more information or questions about PCD programs, please contact PCD, or click on the link below.
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Pierce Conservation District
Posted on June 21, 2021 at 9:37 AM by Nicole Warren
Farmers Helping Pollinators, Pollinators Helping Farmers.
Bumble Bee Pollinating Blueberries Photo By Rocio Miller
Blog by Rocio Miller on June 2021
June is an important time for pollinators and farmers. It is when both teams come together to help one another. Pollinators such as bumblebees are valuable crop pollinators. Unfortunately, the bumblebee population is declining due to habitat loss, disease, and pesticide misuse. There are many ways that anyone can help protect essential pollinators. PCD supports farmers looking to establish habitat for pollinators on their farms. Learning to establish habitat on your farm to attract native pollinators benefits the environment and the crops that we all depend on for survival. PCD has been focusing on helping farmers with pollinator resources and financial assistance for pollinator projects.
Did you know that PCD has helped many farmers with pollinator projects?
PCD helps farmers by helping with pollinator planting, project design, and funding plant material purchases. Also, PCD is excited to have the support of a Western SARE grant to work with farmers to develop appropriate farm habitat planting templates and provide other resources. It is essential for PCD to provide more resources to farmers, to educate everyone about native plants that benefit the farmers’ crops and native pollinators. However, if you cannot establish a habitat on your farm right now but want to help protect pollinators, there are many other ways to support pollinators, and PCD has all the resources for that.
Bumble Bees working hard in June Photo by Rocio Miller
Did you know that June 21-27 is Pollinator Week? https://www.pollinator.org/pollinator-week
This is a great week to focus on ways to help protect pollinators. There are many reasons and opportunities for you to help protect pollinators and share with the community what you have learned about our native bees, other pollinator visitors of the Pacific Northwest, and how they are helping your farm. PCD is the place to find all the needed resources. As PCD helps farmers, farmers can help pollinators, and pollinators can help farmers to enrich the lives of all.
Ways to support pollinators
PCD Resource on Habitat Establishment
Pollinator population monitoring and tracking efforts are enlisting the help of the general public! Become a native pollinator ID nerd and help document pollinator population dynamics that will inform strategies for conservation.
Native Plant Nurseries-- local resources for your plant material
Simple and strategic adjustments to pesticide choice and timing can make a big difference to pollinator survival and health.
Access Financial Assistance for your Pollinator Habitat Project
For more information about PCD or FREE resources or financial assistance for your pollinator project, click on the link below or contact the PCD Farm Team for any questions.
FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE WEBPAGE
PCD Financial Assistance
Posted on May 28, 2021 at 4:11 PM by Nicole Warren
Pierce Conservation District
Nia Pagador at her Garden Flowers Farm in Puyallup, WA Photo By Rocio Miller
Blog by Rocio Miller on May 2021
In 2018 Nia Pagador purchased Garden Flowers Farm in Puyallup for her parents, Zong and Leema Cha. Her parents are farmers from Laos, Hmong community members in Pierce County. Farming is part of what they have done all their lives, and it was important for Nia to find a place in Pierce County for her parents to continue farming. However, as her parents got older and the work became more than what they both could take, Nia and her husband had to come to the farm to help. It was overwhelming for Nia as her farming skills were limited. Seeing how much work is needed to maintain the farm was more than she expected. Nia needed help fast and needed to find lots of resources. She also had one big problem, in one area on her farm, the raspberries they had planted were dying off. Her first thought was fertilizing. As she did some research online, she saw on Instagram that PCD was offering a fertilizing workshop. However, Nia had some questions.
She did not know if PCD helps all farmers. She thought that PCD might only help big farm businesses.
Nia still contacted PCD and attended one of the workshops. To her surprise, Nia learned that PCD helps all farmers, no matter if you are new to farming, have many years under your belt, or your farm is small or big. PCD is the place to get so much support and resources. Nia was so glad she found PCD.
Garden Flowers Farm, the area on the left thriving, the right is not so much.
Photo by Rocio Miller
How did PCD help Nia?
A PCD Farm Team member visited Nia’s farm to take a look at the area where the raspberries were dying. PCD suggested that soil testing is the best way to determine the correct rate, timing, placement, and source of fertilizers or amendments for your particular crop and site conditions. Soil sampling was done, and it was the first good information Nia has received that relieved some of her stress. In the meantime, while waiting for lab results, PCD provided endless resources to Nia. Resources on blueberry, raspberry, and flower production, WSDA Small Farms/Direct Marketing program, no-till resources, and pest management.
Nia has learned so much from all of what PCD has emailed her. Also, knowing that she can reach out to other local farmers and has PCD there when she needs help provides much relief. She can now help her parents have a sustainable farm that provides plenty of beautiful flowers and delicious fruits to the community of Puyallup.
Nia has learned that PCD helps all farmers. PCD has so many resources that she is benefiting from. The Puyallup community and PCD have become part of her farming family. She knows that PCD is here for the community and the people.
Nia mentioned, “The best gain I have received from PCD is all the resources they have provided.”
Resources from PCD Nia found helpful:
WSDA Small Farms/Direct Marketing:
> Here is the link to an OR flower farmer who practices no-till/tarping and has some great videos.
> short video on tarping, https://theurbanfarmer.co/product/silage-tarps/
> Here is a newish no-till market garden podcast that is wonderful—there is a link to their no-till flowers podcast here.
> And here are links to a recent WSU no-till symposium,
Organic No-Till Symposium Part I – Organic No-Till Systems, Livestock Integration, and Novel Cover Crop Planting
Organic No-Till Symposium Part II – Tarping in Organic No-Till Systems and Pacific Northwest Tarping/Occulation Strategies
Integrated Pest Management links:
> Is this what you have on your foliage crop near the blueberries? https://www.growveg.com/pests/us-and-canada/black-bean-aphid/
> http://pnwhandbooks.org/insect, nice for ID and conventional control.
> Johnny’s seed has some nice charts listing what organic options they find effective. See charts under “Pest and Disease Control.”
> Arbico is a very comprehensive site with some good guidance and a wide range of products,
For more information about PCD or the FREE soil testing, workshops, and resources. Click on the link.
Pierce Conservation District