This week, Farm staff began the first phase of construction of our new high tunnel greenhouse.
A high tunnel greenhouse is a metal framed, plastic covered growing space that dramatically increases the growing season in cold climates. Due to the thoughtful generosity of an MCS alum, the 34’x48’ structure will cover almost half of our lower vegetable, fruit and herb garden. While unheated,except for the sun, it will provide the ability to grow food and provide a living laboratory year round. In the heat of the summer, we will roll up the sides to allow for ventilation and continue growing as we usually do. Many of the metal ground poles were driven into the soil by human power, while some required a little more persuasion, using a tractor powered auger or jackhammer. Now that the poles are in place, we will begin to assemble the side structure and arches for the roof. The end walls and doors are next, followed by two layers of clear plastic, which will cover the entire building.
Even in the months of October through early December and March to April, when the MCS Farm gardens lay quiet, we will be able to grow salad greens and cold, hearty plants like broccoli, kale, and cabbages. Amazingly, fruiting plants like peppers, tomatoes, squash and eggplant will last longer in the fall season and begin to grow much earlier in the spring.
While this pandemic has clearly been a catastrophe on so many fronts, the world of local, small scale agriculture is booming. Here in the Catskill Mountains, where so many people landed to quarantine, the desire for locally sourced meat, dairy, and produce has seen many farmers pivot to offer products they don’t usually produce. As MCS continues to double our enrollment, the need for increased food production for the Farm and 85th Street, requires us to thoughtfully and strategically plan for systems that best meet our needs. We are excited to continue construction on the high tunnel greenhouse and will continue to share updates.