Southeast Michigan Seasonal High Tunnel Educational Initiative
The Southeast Michigan Seasonal High Tunnel Educational Initiative aims to improve the outlook for agricultural producers in the most urban area of Michigan. Working through funding from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the SRA provides workshops and technical assistance to local producers in an effort to extend the growing season and increase the availability of locally grown fruits and vegetables in Detroit and surrounding regions.
Since late 2009, NRCS has been leading a Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative (SHT) as a part of its Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). The EQIP program provides landowners with financial and technical assistance to conduct voluntary practices that will improve soil, water, plant, animal, air, energy conservation, and related resources on agricultural land and non-industrial private forestland.
The SHT initiative brought this same financial and technical assistance to support installation and management of seasonal high tunnels or "hoophouses" in agricultural production. The use of high tunnels has been shown to produce many important benefits that could support both economic development and access to healthy food in our region, including:
- Extended growing season,
- Enhanced local food production,
- Lowered transportation burdens,
- Reduction of inputs of nutrients and/or pesticides,
- Improved product quality,
- Improved soil and air quality, and
- New business opportunities, particularly for new and limited-resource farmers.
Throughout 2014-2016, the Sustainable Resources Alliance (formerly the Southeast Michigan RC&D Council) brought together the area's agricultural producers, local food advocates, and community organizations to build partnerships around this issue and will produce a series of educational materials to provide valuable information to local producers in Detroit and Wayne County. In addition, the team conducted workshops to address the following:
- Production and marketing of crops grown in seasonal high tunnels,
- Installation of seasonal high tunnels, and
- Management and maintenance of seasonal high tunnels.
In 2017, this effort will be expanded to the much of the rest of southeast Michigan.
For more information about the seasonal high tunnels educational programming:
Deirdre Hope, Project Coordinator, via email
For more information about NRCS EQIP in southeastern Michigan:
NRCS Ann Arbor Service Center.
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Programs and Resources
- Get Started with NRCS: 5 Steps to Assistance
- NRCS Michigan Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
Current Event Highlights
The Seasonal High Tunnel team is working on a well rounded program for all growers needing to learn about high tunnels.
We're planning one workshop a month with focuses on:
- Basics 101
- Pest Management
- Winter Planning
- Summer Planning
- Marketing and Pricing, Including CSAs
We will sponsor 3 high tunnel builds in the Southeastern Michigan region.
We will hold one full day tour of high tunnels in the area.
Stay tuned for more information!
Historical Event Highlights
- 2016 Program Overview Video
- 2015 Workshop Series Overview
- 2015 Demonstration Build Slideshow - Ortega Urban Farm
- 2014 SHT Educational Initiative Overview Presentation
- 2014 Demonstration Build Slideshow - Buffalo Street Farm
Local Farm Profiles
- Sunnyside Farms - Redford, MI
- Grosse Ile Gardens of Hope - Grosse Ile, MI
- Ohana Gardens - Highland Park, MI
- Ortega Urban Farm - Detroit, MI
- Buffalo Street Farm - Hamtramck, MI
Other Educational Resources
- Michigan Farmers' Market Association - Hoophouses for Health
- City of Detroit Urban Agriculture Ordinance
- USDA Michigan Soil Survey Maps (Note: Wayne County is still in progress and may not yet be available.)
- Keep Growing Detroit: Event calendar and Education programs
- MSU Extension
- Publications & Presentations from Dr. John Biernbaum, MSU Professor of Horticulture
- Eliot Coleman's Hoophouse Handbooks and Recommended Manufacturers
- Washtenaw Conservation District's SHT Suppliers and Installation Contractors List
- Soil testing: Keep Growing Detroit // MSU Soil Test Kit
All listed resources are included for informational purposes only. No endorsement or recommendation is implied.