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Sam takes on Indiana “Home Grown” Meeting

Flowers growing in a high tunnelThis week we’re going to make a departure from regularly scheduled programming to tell you a bit about what Sam is up to when he’s not in the greenhouses or educating people at our workshops. When we were asked by Vickie Smith, environmental technician for the Dearborn County Soil and Water Conservation Department, for a high tunnel expert to speak at their “Home Grown” meeting, we knew Sam was the right person to send.

That’s why last week he traveled to Lawrenceburg, IN to speak to a group of about eighty Dearborn county residents who were looking to learn more about gardening and crop production. Audience members had varying degrees of growing experience, from young farmers just starting out and looking for their niche markets to retirees who want a productive way to keep busy.

Sam chose to focus his presentation around the following topics:Tomatoes and lettuce in a high tunnel

  • NRCS – Environmental Quality Incentives Program available
  • Greenhouse vs. high tunnels
  • Site preparation and construction
  • Types of produce that can be grown in high tunnel
  • Temperature management and irrigation
  • Advantages of high tunnel production
  • Using raised beds
  • Growing cover crops

Focusing on how easy it is to get started in high tunnel growing and how rewarding it is to grow in one, Sam shared his tips and tricks with the audience. For example, a north-south orientation will provide the most sun exposure, however an east-west orientation may be best for winter/early spring harvesting, and if you’re uncertain about the size you need, you’re better off going larger than smaller. High tunnels are available in all sizes, including hobby for backyard growers and can be designed for field-scale setups for commercial growers. No matter what type of grower you are or the size structure you choose, the benefits are the same: longer growing seasons and better quality crops.

Other presenters at the meeting included Mike Hornbach from Purdue Extension, who spoke about food trends, and Jennifer Hughes from Dearborn County Soil & Water Conservation District, who talked about backyard conservation.

We’re glad to be invited to participate at events such as the Dearborn County “Home Grown” meeting because it’s an opportunity to get the word out about the great ways people can produce their own quality food and plants, as well as allow us to offer our assistance.

Have you attended any local informational events on horticulture? Did you take away any helpful tips from them?

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