Resilience is all about being able to overcome the unexpected. Sustainability is about survival. the goal of resilience is to thrive.
-Jamais Cascio…and so, when the price of materials goes through the roof and you have dreams to expand your production and your infrastructure, you have to get creative.
What is a high tunnel?
Many use the term high tunnel or greenhouse interchangeably, but there are some notable differences. Both structures create a climate controlled environment that is ideal for extending the growing season for plants when the elements outside of the structure are not as ideal. High tunnels are truly unmatched in their wide array of uses. They can be built to be mobile, lighter, and overall more flexible than a greenhouse. They are often taller, which enables the use of large equipment within their confines. In a high tunnel, plants are typically sown directly in the ground as you would a garden, and provide an option to remove the covering completely when the growing conditions are right. Whereas, a greenhouse is often filled with potted plants and typically have heaters and powered ventilation systems designed for the ability to grow plants year round if the farmer so chooses.
There were a few things we needed to accomplish with this new structure.
1. We needed more options for moving livestock around. We want to continue providing our customers with fresh pork year round. Although we have much larger plans for using other areas on our farm for pigs in the future, we consistently came back to needing a comfortable place for them to live in the winter months; where we knew we could keep them healthy and happy!
2. We wanted to expand our flock of laying hens! Our farm fresh eggs have received some raved reviews. We found great success with our mobile chicken shed last summer and wanted more hens. The challenge is many mobile structures are not the most comfortable place for chickens in the winter time. Not to mention, there is far less for them to graze when grasses go dormant, or the ground is covered in ice and snow. We wanted a stationary place to be able to keep our hens in the winter where they would be warm, comfortable, and SAFE until we could move them back out on pasture again.
3. This is still a developing story too! We have discussed many other possibilities for this structure and it seems as time goes on and we continue to shape this farm into the dream we picture, there will be many more opportunities to utilize this flexible space.
Why was a high tunnel right for us?
A well respected farmer in the regenerative agriculture community, Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms, uses high tunnels to house a few different species of animals in the winter time. We truly enjoy Joel’s ingenuity and resilience, and often refer to his designs and approach when making infrastructure related decisions. It just so happened, a good friend of ours had two high tunnels no longer in use. While they had sustained some damage and would require some new materials, David figured combining the two together would end up making one good tunnel. It worked!
For now, space is still housing our chickens until their new, much larger, mobile coop is complete. Our future plans include some other additions to this structure. In the meantime, it is chicken city and our feathered friends do not seem to mind!
Many of the supplies we used to make this high tunnel retrofitted for our needs were found through FarmTek. If you have any more questions on our build, reach out! Happy High Tunneling!