NRCS High Tunnel Initiative: Grants for High Tunnels Greenhouses


    In an age where sustainable farming and local produce are gaining traction, the introduction of High Tunnel Greenhouse represents a significant leap forward. Made available with the NRCS Grant through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), these greenhoues are more than just another farming practice; they’re a revolution.

    What Are High Tunnel Greenhouses?

    At its core, a High Tunnel Greenhouse is a protective structure that shields crops from the external environment. Imagine a greenhouse, but one designed primarily for enhancing growth conditions rather than controlling them entirely. Its primary advantage is its ability to extend the growing season, enabling farmers to plant earlier in the spring and harvest later into the fall. In some environments, year-round cultivation becomes feasible, a game-changer for local produce markets.

    Benefits Beyond Extended Seasons

    While the most apparent advantage of the High Tunnel Greenhouse is its ability to prolong the growing season, its benefits extend much further:

    1. Improved Plant and Soil Quality: The controlled environment means less exposure to direct rainfall, pests, and diseases. This leads to healthier crops and, by extension, a richer soil profile as organic matter from these plants enrich the ground.
    2. Eco-Friendly Practices: High tunnels contribute to a reduction in nutrient and pesticide transportation. Since plants are shielded from most environmental contaminants, the need for chemicals reduces, making the produce healthier and reducing the farm’s ecological footprint.
    3. Energy and Transportation Savings: With the ability to grow crops locally, even in off-seasons, the need to import produce diminishes. This leads to a significant reduction in transportation costs and associated carbon emissions, making it a win-win for both the consumer and the environment.

    High Tunnels and Irrigation

    Water is the lifeblood of any farm, and in a High Tunnel Greenhouse, its management is of paramount importance. With the absence of direct rainfall inside the tunnels, farmers often resort to drip irrigation. This method, which involves dripping water directly to the plant roots, is incredibly efficient and minimizes water waste. Furthermore, with precise control over water delivery, nutrient delivery to the plants can also be optimized.

    The Role of Soil Health Practices

    A High Tunnel Greenhouse’S success doesn’t rest solely on the structure itself but also on the practices adopted within. Integrating soil health practices, such as cover crops and crop rotations, can have multiple benefits:

    • Erosion Prevention: The roots of cover crops hold the soil together, preventing it from being washed away during heavy rains.
    • Weed Suppression: Cover crops can outcompete common weeds, reducing the need for chemical herbicides.
    • Enhanced Soil Water Content: Organic matter from the crops increases the soil’s water retention capacity.
    • Pest Control: Crop rotation disrupts the life cycles of many pests, reducing their numbers without the need for chemical pesticides.

    Community and Sustainability

    Perhaps the most heartening aspect of High Tunnel Greenhouses is their role in community building. By providing fresh, local produce throughout the year, these structures bridge the gap between farmers and consumers. When you purchase from a local farmer using a high tunnel, you’re not just buying food – you’re investing in your community, the environment, and a sustainable future.

    Jean-Martin FortierMastering Greenhouse Production: An Exclusive Masterclass

    We’re excited to partner with the esteemed Market Gardener Institute to present our exclusive masterclass, “Mastering Greenhouse Production.” Tailored for both novices and experts in greenhouse farming, this course delves into advanced techniques, best practices, and the latest trends. Guided by industry leaders, participants will be equipped to maximize their High Tunnel Greenhouses and other greenhouse ventures. Don’t miss this golden opportunity to elevate your farming approach with insights from the best in the business.

    Partnering with a Recognized High Tunnel Manufacturer

    For those looking to incorporate a High Tunnel Greenhouses into their agricultural endeavors, it’s crucial to choose a NRCS Approved vendor. Harnois is honored to have been approved by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) as an official high tunnel manufacturer. This recognition is a testament to our commitment to quality and sustainability. While the NRCS offers both technical and financial assistance to farmers, partnering with an approved manufacturer like us ensures a smoother transition from your initial vision to the final implementation. Our expertise aligns seamlessly with the rigorous application process of the NRCS, which prioritizes a clear conservation plan, a thorough assessment of resources, practice design, and continuous monitoring. Together, we strive to promote sustainable farming and make high tunnel integration a beneficial experience for all.

    FAQ on the High Tunnel Initiative

    1. What is a High Tunnel Greenhouse? A High Tunnel Greenhouse is a structure that allows farmers to extend the growing season, improve plant and soil quality, and benefit from several other advantages. They have been gaining popularity among farmers.

    2. What are the benefits of High Tunnel Greenhouses? High tunnels offer a variety of benefits, including:

    • Extending the growing season.
    • Enhancing plant and soil quality.
    • Reducing the transportation of nutrients and pesticides.
    • Improving air quality by decreasing transportation inputs.
    • Providing consumers with a local source of fresh produce, thus cutting down on energy use.

    3. How do high tunnels affect the growing season? High tunnels shield plants from harsh weather, enabling farmers to begin planting earlier in the spring and continue growing later into the fall. In some cases, they can even support year-round cultivation.

    4. How does irrigation work with high tunnels? Since high tunnels prevent direct rainfall from reaching plants, farmers often use tools like drip irrigation. This allows for efficient delivery of water and nutrients directly to the plants.

    5. Can high tunnels help with pest control? Absolutely! High tunnels give farmers better control over pests and can protect plants from both pollen and pesticide drift.

    6. Are there any soil health practices for high tunnels? Yes, practices such as cover crops, crop rotations, and more can be employed. These practices not only benefit the soil but also prevent erosion, suppress weeds, enhance soil water content, and disrupt pest cycles.

    7. What are the supporting practices associated with high tunnel greenhouses? Farmers might need additional conservation practices when implementing high tunnels. Some of these practices include Critical Area Planting, Diversion Grassed Waterway, Mulching, Micro-irrigation, Subsurface Drain, and more.

    8. How can I start with a high tunnel greenhouse? If you’re interested, you can apply through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Check out the “Apply for EQIP” section for more information.

    9. What assistance does the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) offer? NRCS provides both technical and financial assistance to help farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners. They offer free technical advice, resource assessments, practice design, and resource monitoring.

    10. What is the application process with NRCS? The application process involves:

    • Filling out an AD 1026 form.
    • Meeting other eligibility certifications.
    • Completing the CPA 1200 application.
    • Providing necessary identification and property documents. Applications are typically accepted continuously but are considered for funding during specific ranking periods.

    11. How are applications ranked? Applications are evaluated based on local resource concerns, the expected conservation benefits, and the needs of the applicants.

    12. What happens after my application is selected? If your application is chosen, you can decide to sign the contract. Once signed, you’ll receive standards and specifications for completing the practices. After implementation and inspection, if the work meets NRCS standards, you’ll be compensated accordingly.

    13. Where can I learn more about this initiative and the application process? For more details, you can visit