Low-Tunnel Greenhouses and Compost
In January of 2022, Pearce and I used our winter to plan for our upcoming farm season. Farm planning always includes lots of different things, but since we had just finished our first year with our own farm, we were hoping to apply for some grant programs to support some of the new ideas we had for our farm. Lots of times, farmers apply for many grants, and rarely receive one. There’s always tons of deserving farmers who apply for grant funding, so the competition is usually pretty strong. But, as optimistic farmers, we applied for a few grant programs anyways.
At the end of January, I received a phone call from Lakewinds telling us that we had been chosen as a grant recipient for the 2022 Lakewinds Organic Field Fund (LOFF) grant!! I could barely believe it. Our little, passionate voices had been heard by the community! The LOFF had promised to fund the materials for three low-tunnel, caterpillar greenhouses AND a big load of compost for our farm. The greenhouses were a dream of ours which would extend our growing season and the compost would increase the organic matter percentage in our soils.
We got to work. Ordered greenhouse supplies. Ordered compost.
As the snow melted, we had mapped out where we wanted to build our greenhouses, and prepped our materials. We cut our pipes for the foundation, bent the greenhouse hoops, drilled holes, and marked our field.
Marking and measuring our field:
Finalizing the frames:
By late April, we were ready to pull plastic. Pearce’s amazing parents (my in-laws) helped us pull the greenhouse plastic over each greenhouse as we finished constructing the structures. We secured the plastic to the hoops with string looped around screws on the ground posts. We pulled plastic over the final one with the full moon shining above us. Our greenhouses were ready for planting.
The spring season in 2022 took its sweet time to come on. It stayed cold and rainy for weeks past when we would normally plant our crops into the field. We were so lucky that we could plant a whole succession of food into the first greenhouse we built. The lettuce, asian greens, green onions, and cilantro went into our first few CSA shares, keeping us on track for the growing season.
Through the season, our greenhouses benefited us so much. The cherry tomatoes we planted survived the first fall frosts and we sold tomatoes at the farmers market well into October! We are so excited to start planning for the 2023 season; integrating even more crops into this valuable growing space.
This grant was so powerful for us financially, but also emotionally. As young, beginning farmers it meant the absolute world to know people in our local community care about food security and small-scale, local growers. To know that there are people out there who hear our voices and uplift them is SO appreciated.
Thank you to all of the Lakewinds staff who went through the decision making process and decided to award us with this meaningful grant!
Thank you to all the community members who donated to the Lakewinds Organic Field Fund for 2022. Your donation supports local food producers in Minnesota and secures the possibility of local food in the future. If you want to support this grant program in the future you can donate here:
Pearce and I were also featured in the LOFF grant recipients video for 2022. Check it out to see some awesome video footage of our greenhouses in action! Follow the link below to view the video:
Your StrongHeart Farmers,
Eleanor and Pearce