At Hale Farms, we are continually learning and experimenting with innovative
techniques that allow us to extend the growing season and better protect and
nourish our crops, while maintaining our commitment to sustainable
agriculture and organic practices.
High tunnels don't give us more hours in a day, but they give
us many extra hours in a growing season.
A high tunnel is nothing fancy or terribly expensive, just a metal frame covered with greenhouse plastic to warm and shelter our crops. Its
heat comes from solar energy, so no electricity is needed. Ventilation and cooling
are provided by rolling up the plastic on the sides of the tunnel, and plants are watered through drip irrigation tape installed in each row.
Hale Farms’ first high tunnel, built in the fall of 2002, is 20 feet wide and 96 feet long. During our first season in the high tunnel, we planted
tomatoes in mid-March and harvested our first ripe tomatoes in mid-June, several
weeks earlier than tomatoes grown in the field. By late September we had harvested nearly
3 tons of prime quality tomatoes from the 200 plants in the tunnel.
Because the plants in the tunnel are protected from harsh winds, heavy thunderstorms, and sudden drops in nighttime temperatures, they are healthier, stress-free and vigorous. Last year, the tomato plants in the tunnel grew to nearly 12 feet tall!
This year, we are conducting a high tunnel experiment by companion planting strawberries and tomatoes at the same time to see if two crops can be harvested in one growing season.
"A farmer should live as though he were going to die
tomorrow; but he should farm as though he were going to live
forever" --Evans, 1966
Sustainable agriculture creates an environment where
biodiversity is high, plant nutrients are recycled, soil is
protected from erosion, water is conserved and not polluted,
and tillage is minimized. We believe that
even small family farms can have a big impact on our
environment by adhering to organic, natural production methods
that regenerate the land while producing plenty of fresh,
healthy food for our communities.
support the goals of sustainable agriculture by spending more
of your food-buying dollars on natural products that have been
produced by sustainable farms. It's now easier than ever
to find out where your food is coming from and how it is
produced. Just ask your local grocer or restaurant
manager, or stop by your local Farmers Market and talk
directly to the growers!