AP NEWS

Farming workshop helps small farms

April 20, 2018 GMT

High tunnels aren’t quite a greenhouse, but they’re close and employing one can yield crops hundreds of times larger than in the field.

For small farmers, those larger, high quality crop yields can help them meet the bottom line and stay competitive in bigger markets.

The Bonneville County Extension Office hosted a small farming workshop to teach small farmers techniques that allow them to have higher production and beat the market, said Wayne Jones, extension educator with the University of Idaho in Bonneville County.

The workshop was hosted in partnership with the Utah State University and made possible by a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant. It was geared toward small farms and farmers market participants as well as people considering starting a farm business.

Jones said with high tunnels, which are structures covered in plastic that retain heat and humidity, crops are able to grow year-round, mature earlier and faster than in the fields.

“The responsibility of extension educators is to bring the research information that universities do down to the common man,” Jones said.

Growing faster and ahead of the typical growing season allows farmers to beat the traditional market windows for selling certain crops. Beating the market lets farmers increase the profit from their crops because they don’t have as much competition from other growers.

Jones said he even knows one farmer who grows citrus in his high tunnel. The tunnels also are inexpensive.

He said the high tunnel sitting outside his window near the extension office was built in 2010 for about $500.

It’s lasted eight years with minor maintenance costs. High tunnel costs can vary depending on its size and complexity, but it remains a relatively inexpensive way to increase crop quality and production.

The workshop also detailed ways to naturally control pests, such as ladybugs for aphids and sticky paper to catch bugs.

Farmer Leonard Dabb said he attended the workshop so he could learn from others, not through trial and error.

“Anybody can have success once in a while, but you have to be able to know what you’re doing to have consistency in results,” Dabb said. “I need to know how to be able to do that.”

Farmer Maegan Sutton added that the dry, arid desert environment in eastern Idaho also poses unique challenges for farmers.

“Everything that will grow here, we try to grow it. We are limited by the environment and the short season,” Sutton said.

Sutton grows several different crops on her farm such as carrots, cabbage, beets, broccoli and more. She said small farmers tend to grow more of a variety in their crops than larger scale farmers. Workshops like this cater to those distinctions.

She said the internet has a plethora of information, but hearing what works for people who are also growing locally is better.

For information on University of Idaho Bonneville County Extension Office programs, call Jones at 208-529-1390 or email him at wjones@uidaho.edu.By ISABELLA ALVES

ialves@postregister.com

High tunnels aren’t quite a greenhouse, but they’re close and employing one can yield crops hundreds of times larger than in the field.

For small farmers, those larger, high quality crop yields can help them meet the bottom line and stay competitive in bigger markets.

The Bonneville County Extension Office hosted a small farming workshop to teach small farmers techniques that allow them to have higher production and beat the market, said Wayne Jones, extension educator with the University of Idaho in Bonneville County.

The workshop was hosted in partnership with the Utah State University and made possible by a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant. It was geared toward small farms and farmers market participants as well as people considering starting a farm business.

Jones said with high tunnels, which are structures covered in plastic that retain heat and humidity, crops are able to grow year-round, mature earlier and faster than in the fields.

“The responsibility of extension educators is to bring the research information that universities do down to the common man,” Jones said.

Growing faster and ahead of the typical growing season allows farmers to beat the traditional market windows for selling certain crops. Beating the market lets farmers increase the profit from their crops because they don’t have as much competition from other growers.

Jones said he even knows one farmer who grows citrus in his high tunnel. The tunnels also are inexpensive.

He said the high tunnel sitting outside his window near the extension office was built in 2010 for about $500.

It’s lasted eight years with minor maintenance costs. High tunnel costs can vary depending on its size and complexity, but it remains a relatively inexpensive way to increase crop quality and production.

The workshop also detailed ways to naturally control pests, such as ladybugs for aphids and sticky paper to catch bugs.

Farmer Leonard Dabb said he attended the workshop so he could learn from others, not through trial and error.

“Anybody can have success once in a while, but you have to be able to know what you’re doing to have consistency in results,” Dabb said. “I need to know how to be able to do that.”

Farmer Maegan Sutton added that the dry, arid desert environment in eastern Idaho also poses unique challenges for farmers.

“Everything that will grow here, we try to grow it. We are limited by the environment and the short season,” Sutton said.

Sutton grows several different crops on her farm such as carrots, cabbage, beets, broccoli and more. She said small farmers tend to grow more of a variety in their crops than larger scale farmers. Workshops like this cater to those distinctions.

She said the internet has a plethora of information, but hearing what works for people who are also growing locally is better.

For information on University of Idaho Bonneville County Extension Office programs, call Jones at 208-529-1390 or email him at wjones@uidaho.edu.