Urban high tunnel trial for small-scale farmers in cities

Jon Laiuppa


New England has a goal to produce 50% of its food locally by 2060 and urban high tunnels may be able  to play a role in reaching this goal. Urban high tunnels are more compact and cost-effective greenhouses that utilize a dual plastic layer to trap heat and create better growing conditions for crops in the harsh  New England environment. These systems are becoming increasingly popular, however, more data on  the effectiveness of the tunnel versus unprotected system are needed to better inform people  prospective urban farmers its benefits. We used eight total systems (four high tunnels and four  unprotected) to test yield and value of a variety of crops including high value crops (ginger and  turmeric). We found that the high tunnels produce much higher yield than outdoor beds as expected.  The value total of the high tunnels was over $600 more on average than the outdoor beds. We found  ginger and turmeric to be particularly promising high value crops to produce in the system and that  overall, high tunnels produce better quality food crops and are best suited for urban environments in  New England.