Organic Vegetable Production in High Tunnels at Wishing Stone Farm

Skip Paul at Wishing Stone Farm

Skip Paul at Wishing Stone Farm

Growing Under Plastic

Skip Paul and Liz Peckham have been farming in Little Compton for nearly 30 years. Their son, Silan recently joined them at Wishing Stone Farm. Their eight parcels host a variety of growing structures among the fields: stationary greenhouses, movable high tunnels, Haygrove houses or Rolling Thunder structures like those used by Elliot Coleman in Maine.

Modern European poly house manufacturers recommend houses be gutter-connected and at least 21’ high. The light bounces around like a diamond refracting inside and helps grow better crops – especially in winter’s weaker sunlight. The high ceiling improves airflow, which helps reduce bacteria and disease pressure. Paul’s Star Steel House (www.starsteelgreenhouses.com) from Milikowski Greenhouse Supply (www.whmilikowski.com) has automated roof vents and motors to roll up the sides when needed. In the dead of winter, pipes bring in small amounts of cool air rather than risking crops by opening a vent or raising a side in frosty temperatures.

Paul heats just five of the farm’s twelve houses to start spring plants. The Star Steel House has a furnace that burns used motor oil. Propane or traditional heating oil heats four other houses. For years, used oil was just about free from fishermen and truck fleets. Now there is some competition so this fuel costs the farm about $.50 per gallon (paid in CSA debit card credits).

[Read more here.]

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About Sanne Kure-Jensen

Sanne Kure-Jensen is a frequent contributor to Country Folks, Country Folks Grower and Wine & Grape Grower bringing regional and national attention to agriculture in RI and across southern New England. She has also written for newsletters of the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA), Holistic Management International (HMI), RI Beekeepers Association and RI Tree Council. Read Sanne’s work at her Sustainable Living page at examiner.com. Sanne has written successful grant applications for alternative energy projects, staff and board training, products and services. Clients include agricultural businesses, farm stand/markets and non-profit organizations. Recent successful grant projects include a $90,000 USDA Rural Development‘s Rural Energy For America Program (REAP), $10,000 Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Farmer and $20,000 Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG). Sanne is the part-time Administrator for NOFA/RI, a Rhode Island Certified Horticulturist and beekeeper. She is a NOFA Accredited Organic Land Care Professional and has lectured across southern New England on Beekeeping, Native Pollinators and Ecological Landscape Design. Learn more about the NOFA’s Land Care programs or contact Sanne for a garden consultation through the NOFA/RI website.
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