The right temperature control has allowed a greenhouse farmer in Lake City, Minnesota to have a constant supply of fresh produce during any season.
Commercial greenhouse companies have offered the same technology for farmers who want to maximize the use of their greenhouses year-round. As for the Lake City Catholic Worker Farm, its deep winter greenhouse uses a pilot project from the University of Minnesota.
The pioneer project involves a low-energy design for the controlled environment. It has a high tunnel that farmers use for extending the growing season, which proves that not all solutions require a high-tech approach. The structure allows them to plant cucumbers and tomatoes, which will continue to grow until late November.
Still, the Lake City Catholic Worker Farm’s owners rely on computer-controlled systems to monitor the greenhouse’s indoor temperature. The plants grown inside the high tunnel have produced fruit sooner and almost double the size of crops planted outside. If you’re interested in building your own modern greenhouse, there are some things that you need to consider before investing.
According to the National Center for Appropriate Technology’s ATTRA program, the standard commercial greenhouse with a size of 30 by 100 feet costs between $15,000 and $30,000. The price already includes heating, cooling, and ventilation systems. Annual operational expenses may cost between $6,000 and $10,000, so consider a greenhouse to be a long-term investment.
You can increase your chances of gaining a favorable yield by studying the market in your region. This includes reviewing market prices for different commodities. For instance, the break-even price for greenhouse-grown cucumbers and tomatoes has reached 75 cents per pound in the previous year.
A well-designed greenhouse offers more than just a constant supply of fresh produce. It could also improve the quality of crop harvest, which would allow farmers to charge a higher price for their products.