The 2012 season of farmer training programs offered by the Accokeek Foundation’s Center for Agricultural and Environmental Stewardship kicked off last month with much success. Attended by nearly 40 participants, the Farming in High Tunnels workshop brought together farmers and organizations working in both sustainable agriculture and youth education. Many interesting folks from farms and organizations like the Washington Youth Garden, Common Good City Farm, Aya Community Market, Dreaming Out Loud, Real Food Farm, Neighborhood Farm Initiative, Ecolocity, National Family Farm Coalition, as well as several local farmers came together to learn how to utilize high tunnels–or hoophouses–in their farm operations, extending the growing season and improving profitability.
Instructors Erroll Mattox and Thomas Handwerker from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore’s Small Farm Institute covered topics from hoophouse construction to strategies for combating common pests one may encounter in hoophouse production. It’s incredible how a hoophouse can be a means of increasing crop yield–providing the opportunity for year-round production–but they also provide a space for community gathering and youth education in gardening that is warm and not weather dependent!
Created to teach and inspire people to use principles and practices of sustainability in agriculture and everyday life, the Center for Agriculture and Environmental Stewardship offers farmer training workshops, and classes for homeowners. Upcoming workshop topics include using and installing rain barrels, permaculture land use design concepts, running a successful CSA, and tractor operation and maintenance.