High Tunnel Season Extension
Grant Award: $6,000
Amos and Kaci have added a 30-foot by 72-foot high tunnel to their vegetable operation, allowing them to double their current production. With the increased volume, they plan to expand their Community Supported Agriculture membership from 30 to 40 participants. They also expect to extend their season by eight weeks, offering fresh vegetables three and possibly four seasons of the year.
High tunnels are very important to extend the growing season in a high altitude region like Avery County. The county has a relatively short growing season, which can have a frost-free window of four and a half months in comparison to more than six months in other mountain counties. The unheated structures have also proven to produce higher quality and larger vegetables than those in the field.
In the last seven years since purchasing their property just down the road from where Amos grew up, Kaci and Amos have transitioned from working off-farm jobs to now being full-time farmers. In addition to mixed vegetables, they also sell pasture-raised chicken, lamb, rabbit and pork all grown on the farm, and partner with a local farm to sell beef.
Amos said their project offers demonstration to other transitioning farmers. “As tobacco and Christmas tree operations either decline or become consolidated, our small scale year-round mixed vegetable production can stand as a viable farming alternative,” Amos said. “We currently cannot meet wholesale and retail demand for fresh sustainably grown produce. There is plenty opportunity and room in this growing market.”