High tunnels (HTs) constitute a growing, local level response to the globalization of our food. As semi-permanent greenhouses, HTs bring practical on-farm solutions to biophysical growing constraints; they extend the growing season and buffer delicate crops from extreme weather events. In 2009, the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) began subsidizing the construction of HTs with the documented goals of increasing environmental stewardship and the added benefit of promoting local foods. However, many questions remain about the impacts of HT’s. Who is benefiting from the NRCS HT program? Will farmers continue to adopt HTs in the absence of government subsidies? What is their production potential? This paper explores the impacts of the NRCS HT program and high tunnels on farms, consumers, and the local food movement. Preliminary results indicate that farms with high tunnels are expanding around areas with the greatest demand for local produce. The combined results from farmers who use high tunnels and the United States government who pays for the leads us to conclude that high tunnels are a growing part of the U.S. food system with the potential to increase access to local produce.
Foust-Meyer, N., & O'Rourke, M. E. (2015). High tunnels for local food systems: Subsidies, equity, and profitability. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 5(2), 27–38. http://dx.doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2015.052.015