Over 200,000 residents and 1 in 4 children unsure of where their next meal will come from. A 2015 USDA report revealed that Maine has the 2nd highest rate of “very low food security” in the country.
With the added burden of heating costs, hunger increases in the winter and food pantries often struggle to meet this need, seeing a drop off in fresh vegetables during the cold months. Local gardeners who donate produce all summer close up their gardens over the winter, and fresh food becomes scarce.
With funding from Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation’s Healthy Food Fund, our high tunnel greenhouse extends our growing and programming season. Hardier crops like kale, carrots, and spinach grow under shelter in the colder months and warmer weather crops are started earlier and keep growing later in the season than without cover. The greenhouse is on wheels which allows our farmers to use our fields more efficiently. The mobility allows them to pull the structure to cover the crops need them at that time and they’re not limited to growing on the same plot season after season.
Unlike the arid land conditions that can occur in greenhouses, this structure’s mobility differently allows the soil to regenerate between crop cycles. Land not covered by the greenhouse can be fertilized, planted with cover crops, and tilled—all while having access to rain and snow pack. This supports our efforts to promote more sustainable farming practices.