How to Get Funding to Build a High Tunnel


Did you know that there are funds available to help you build your high tunnel. Through the equip program or the environmental quality initiative program there are funds available that will actually cost share or grant you money to build your first high tunnel. To get these funds or obtain these funds, you need to first get a farm number from the farm service agency in your county. Simply give them a call and go down, meet with them and they will help you establish a farm number. Once you have your farm number then you go visit the nrcs or the Natural Resource Conservation Service also within your county to apply for a high tunnel grant. Typically the FSA and the nrcs are housed in the same buildings. I’m going to show you how to find your local NRCS office. Type in NRCS office to the search and here we have the local service centers directory. Click on that link and it pulls up the US map we’re going to go and look for a location in Iowa. Click on it again and then let’s look in dallas county. So we’ll see that Brad Harrison is our contact in Adel for dallas county and Brad it is the individual that you’re going to want to contact to get the process started for the paperwork for your high tunnel equip application. With your title equip application you also need to have a farm stock service number or an FSA number. And to do that, typically the FSA office is located right next to or as part of the same office as the nrcs building so the address that we have here 1918 green street in Adel should be the same address for the FSA office where you get your farm number. Back to Google here and we’ll do FSA office and here we have the USDA Farm Service Agency homepage and will click up here on the state offices. Again I’m going to go to Iowa. And let me see here. And we’re going to click on county offices again. We’ll go back to Dallas county and we see that the FSA office is located at 1918 Greene St. in Adel and the contact for the Dallas County FSA office would be Kelly Cain and she’ll be the individual that will be able to help you get a farm number. With the FSA offices and the NRCS office I recommend that you call ahead and make an appointment. Both of these offices, the individuals are out about in the fields doing site visits as well. So you want to make sure that when you go in that there are going to be around, when they can have that paperwork pulled and ready to fill out. When you get there you’re filling out the grant form for your high tunnel. You want to consider, are you a beginning farmer? Are you a minority farmer? Are you a woman farmer or have you been in the business for several years? There are different funds and different rates that you can receive to help fund your high tunnel. Here we have the usda nrcs website for the international level. And we do a google search for high tunnel equip. This is likely the page that’s going to come up. You’re going to find some of the basic information for going through this application process for getting a high tunnel. You see a few basic reasons for why we put up a high tunnel here under the introduction and there’s some good information on this page particularly when we go down to the core practice high tunnel system initiative link. And when we open up this link here we have all those details – as far as what you can and can’t do inside the.. with a high tunnel. So under the criteria we have. Crops must be grown in the soil. So no no artificial raised beds or permanent raised beds. No aqua culture hydroponics during that contract period. Look down here a little bit further… well as you’re looking through the criteria you’ll see that it’s listed that you cannot grow livestock in here. No parking equipment and tools and supplies like that. Basically it can’t be a storage building. All that is spelled out here under the National NRCS equip title page. So if we go back to the main page underneath the supporting practices. These are other equip funding opportunities that may go hand-in-hand with funding for the high tunnel. And then you go down on here. How to apply and who can apply. You can see that they’re basically can be some differences from state to state. So once you go through this get to this initial page you want to go down here to the bottom and actually find your specific state where we can find those actual details as far as deadlines and application periods. So go to the state of Iowa home page and pull up the seasonal high tunnel initiative. And what we find on these pages is the important information right here and that’s when the applications are due and when the applications are actually going to be reviewed so that you know when you’ve got to have your paperwork in and you know about when they’re gonna start looking at that paperwork in order to tell you if you’re going to be funded or not. Down here under the lifetime caps we see how much money you actually can get cost-shared for a high tunnel. And then down under the additional information we have the high tunnel system ranking tool. And this is how you’re actually going to be scored on your application. So it helps to look at this before while you’re filling out your application. These are the types of things that they’re going to be looking for. And then there’s some additional information here with some… stuff from ISU Extension and Outreach for building a rainwater catchment system and some production budget links here as well as a few other things. I want to click on the seasonal high tunnels for crops, the Iowa job sheet. And here we’re going to start to see some of the first paperwork that we’re going to fill out. So scroll down to page 1 and 2. These are some of those details and criteria, again, that we looked at previously on the web pages. But here we’re going to have the sum of the initial paperwork that includes your name your farm number. This is the number that you get from the farm service or FSA office. Then there’s going to be some information here as far as manufacture, the model that you’re using. There are some minimum- maximum requirements for the width of the high tunnel. No length requirement. So and then the once more information if you’re going to add supplemental heat. Your higher ventilation system is going to work and then we go down to the attached site plan. This isn’t anything that needs to be overly detailed. You can go and get like a google image and copy and paste it on here. And then you’re all in where your high tunnel is going to be, where the water and electric are coming from. This is a contract period so you do have to grow produce in the soil for a four year time period. Once you get through that for your time period the high tunnel is available to you to use any way you see fit. As a contract though you are required to make sure it has a cover on it to maintain it and to continue to grow produce for commercial sales within that high tunnel. When funding your high tunnel the nrcs equip program will fund approximately 2,100 square feet. The equip highI tunnel funding program account is on a revolving fund so go ahead and apply for the funds at any time and as funds become available and they go through the selection process they will let you know if you will be receiving funds this year. Of course if you are selected and you decide not to build a high tunnel you can always say no. You are not on a requirement to build that high tunnel until you accept the funds. So take advantage of this wonderful opportunity from the nrcs equip program to build your high tunnel today. High tunnels are a desert environment and as such we still need to provide irrigation water to plants that we’re trying to grow our produce in. So for irrigation we typically use a drip irrigation system which is a low pressure low flow system that puts water directly in the root zone.

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