High Tunnel Complete!

A high tunnel is essentially an unheated greenhouse. We started this project in the winter of 2017, when we first applied for an NRCS grant to fund 75% of the cost. We purchased our structure from Valley Produce Supply in Dayton, Virginia. There are a lot of high tunnel suppliers. We chose Valley Produce because we’ve seen one of their structures in action at our friend’s property. The structure is 30’x72’. 

initial groundwork prep for high tunnel, summer of 2019. photo by Marlyn McClendon

It took a lot of site preparation to get this project out of the ground. Due to the high water table on the property and clay-y soil that doesn’t drain well, we did our best to move soil from other places to the high tunnel site. In addition to moving soil, it took a couple tries before we got the right design for the watering system. Most of the high tunnels in our area have gutters that catch rain water and direct it to water tanks under ground. With the high water table we were worried that the tanks wouldn’t stay underground if they were low on water. Our plans now include tanks that are about 30 feet up the ridge behind the tunnel, and a solar powered water pump that pumps up to the tanks during the day, and gravity feed the HT. 


Once the irrigation plans were sorted out and the bottom of the poles were in the ground, Adam put all the trusses together on the ground. From there, Adam and our friend Clay helped move the bows into position. I used the tractor bucket with had a Y-shaped tree attached to it to raise the bows up, while Clay & Adam directed the ends into the pipes that hold the trusses in place. This process was one of the most daunting parts, but ultimately it only took 30 minutes to raise 19 bows!

Once the bows were in place, we moved forward getting all the braces attached, built the end walls, and installed the hydrant. 

In a perfect world the plastic would be attached on a hot and windless day. Fortunately the February weather cooperated just right and with the help of friends and neighbors and the promise of corn bread, chili, and pie we got the plastic on in just a few hours!

I want to give a huge shout out to all of our friends that helped! It is so, so appreciated and I can’t wait to start growing in the tunnel in just a few weeks!