Do you want in-depth information about farming with high tunnels in the Dakotas? SDSU Extension, along with NDSU researchers and a variety of South Dakota farmers, will host a High Tunnel Short Course from October 16-17 at the Outdoor Campus – West (Adventure Trail, Rapid City, SD 57702).
On Monday, October 16 from 8:00 a.m. – 5:15 p.m. there will be eight presentations dedicated to high tunnel construction, production, and economic considerations. On Tuesday, October 17 attendees will join a bus tour to visit two different high tunnel systems within Pine Ridge Reservation and near Spearfish, South Dakota. This event is for current and beginning farmers, technical service providers, gardeners, and anyone who would like to learn more about high tunnels.
Presenters will dig into the details of high tunnel production and attendees will walk away empowered to begin or enhance high tunnel production while dealing with challenges unique to growing fruits, vegetables, and cut flowers within the Dakotas. This short course wraps up a season of high tunnel education across North and South Dakota; more regional events and a NDSU High Tunnel Short Course will be held in 2024. The full two-day schedule of events with presenter and farmer biographies is included in the additional details below.
The cost to attend this course is $25 per day, per person. Register by Monday, October 9 using the blue button below. Lunch and light refreshments will be provided on both days and are covered in the cost of registration. Transportation to the tours on the second day is also included in the price of the ticket. The bus will depart at 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday, October 17. If cost is a barrier to participation or for more information, please contact Kristine Lang, Assistant Professor & SDSU Extension Consumer Horticulture Specialist.
Due to catering deadlines, no refunds will be issued if participation is canceled; however, you would be welcome to send another attendee in your place. In the event of inclement weather preventing travel on farm roads, participants will gather on Tuesday, October 17 from 8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. at the Outdoor Campus to visit with tour presenters and still enjoy lunch and networking. No refunds will be issued if the tours are moved or canceled.
Acknowledgment: This event is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under agreement number 2022-38640-37486 through the North Central Region SARE program under project number ENC22-216. USDA is an equal opportunity employer and service provider. Visit the North Central SARE website.
- 8:00 a.m. – Registration and Light Refreshments
- 8:30 a.m. – Welcome and Introductions
- 8:40 a.m. – What does high tunnel season extension mean in the Dakotas?: Harlene Hatterman-Valenti, North Dakota State University
- 9:35 a.m. – Profit Season Extending, Bob Weyrich, South Dakota Small Business Development Center
- 10:45 a.m. – Beat the Heat: The Benefits and Pitfalls of Shading Midwest High Tunnels: Kristine Lang, Assistant Professor & SDSU Extension Consumer Horticulture Specialist
- 11:40 a.m. – Cost Effective Season Extension for High-Tunnels: Shannon Mutschelknaus, Wayward Springs Acres
- 12:25 p.m. – Lunch and Networking
- 1:25 p.m. – Greenhouse Coverings in Challenging Conditions: Dirk and Kjersten Oudman, Blue Sky Vegetable Co.
- 2:20 p.m. – Food Safety for High Tunnel Producers: What do I need to know?: Rhoda Burrows, Professor & SDSU Extension Horticulture Specialist
- 3:15 p.m. – High tunnel innovations: Saving you time and reducing labor by sharing a variety of technology options for automation and labor saving ideas: Peggy Martin, Cedar Creek Gardens
- 4:10 p.m. – Diversifying Your High Tunnel Crops with Cut Flowers: Esther McGinnis, North Dakota State University
- 4:55 p.m. – Day 1 Wrap-up and Reflection
- 8:00 a.m. – Charter bus departs from The Outdoor Campus
- 10:00 a.m. – Tour 1 – Re-Member and SDSU Extension: Growing a healthier today on the Pine Ridge Reservation: Will Paese and Devorah Mlotkowski, Feather II
- Feather II, Re-Member’s community gardening hub produces fresh produce and opportunities to exchange wisdom and knowledge on our 160-acre property outside the community of Porcupine, South Dakota on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Two administrative offices for Re-Member and SDSU Extension provide oversight and expertise to produce in our two high tunnels and 2.5-acre garden. Indigenous plants thrive on the banks of Porcupine Creek and provide endless opportunities for future growth.
- 12:00 p.m. – Lunch during travel to tour stop #2
- 2:30 p.m. – Tour 2 – Season Extension In and Out of the Mobile High Tunnel: Jared Lukens-Black, Budding Moon Farm
- Participants will see Budding Moon Farm's mobile high tunnel, highlighting features that make it easily movable yet resilient in South Dakota weather. Also discussed will be the crop selection for late fall and winter growing and cover cropping selection to maximize the soil health benefits of a mobile high tunnel. While at the stop, participants will also get to check out what Budding Moon Farm is doing with late-season crops being grown out of the tunnel that allows for a CSA season extending into late December.
- 4:30 p.m. – Day 2 Wrap-up and reflection during travel back to Rapid City
- 5:30 p.m. – Bus returns to The Outdoor Campus
Note: In the event of inclement weather preventing travel on farm roads, participants will gather on Tuesday, October 17 from 8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. at The Outdoor Campus to visit with tour presenters and still enjoy lunch and networking. No refunds will be issued if the tours are moved or canceled.
Feather II, Re-Member and SDSU Extension
For 25 years, Re-Member has provided opportunities for cultural immersion and direct service to the Oglala Lakota Nation. Responding to immediate needs, they provide resources that improve the quality of life for members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, and create meaningful opportunities to build understanding for their volunteers. The Pine Ridge Reservation is a food desert — with just one full-service grocery store. Their 2.5-acre community garden is the beginning of a reservation-wide hub system to address this.
In collaboration with SDSU Extension, they are building a network of home and school-based gardens, and developing the skills of individuals to grow their own produce. Future plans include the introduction of a “veggie wagon,” providing staff the opportunity to travel across the reservation to distribute fresh produce and offer knowledge and material resources to establish additional community-based gardens.
Budding Moon Farm
Budding Moon Farm is a 1/2-acre farm in Spearfish, South Dakota. The goal of the farm is to implement innovative programs that increase nutrition security in the community, while also supporting a healthy ecosystem and maintaining financial viability. Budding Moon Farm distributes all its produce through a sliding-scale (pay-what's-right-for-you) CSA and Veggie Rx (prescription produce) program serving 60 households annually.
An important part of production at the farm is season extension to ensure that the programs offering affordable produce can run as long as possible and offer a diversity of produce, even in the variable weather of western South Dakota. Budding Moon Farm works to lengthen the season through unique crop selection, growing in protected spaces (primarily a mobile high tunnel), and growing high-quality crops that store well into spring. Jared has been running the farm solo since it was established in 2018 after learning vegetable production from many farms in the Pacific Northwest.
Harlene Hatterman-Valenti, North Dakota State University
Harlene Hatterman-Valenti is a Professor, Assistant Head, and High-value Crops Specialist in the Plant Sciences Department at North Dakota State University. Harlene joined NDSU in September 2000 and has 85/15% research/teaching responsibilities. She has sponsored three visiting scientists, trained two post-docs, three PhD, 27 MS students and currently has five PhD and eight MS students in her program. To date, Harlene has published 71 peer-reviewed manuscripts, authored/co-authored three book chapters, published 252 scientific abstracts/proceedings, authored/co-authored 42 extension publications, and published 287 research reports. Since joining NDSU, she has given 280 extension presentations.
Bob Weyrich, South Dakota Small Business Development Center
Bob Weyrich has an extensive background in the business of agriculture. He has operated his own farm and ranch, bought, sold, and promoted South Dakota agriculture and agribusiness around the world and at the farmers markets. His current role as the Pierre Regional Director for the Small Business Development center has him concentrating at ways to assure profitability of high tunnels and what directions producers may target.
Kristine Lang, SDSU Extension
Kristine Lang is a South Dakota State University Assistant Professor and Extension Consumer Horticulture Specialist based in Brookings, South Dakota. She holds a Ph.D. in Horticulture and Sustainable Agriculture from Iowa State University. Her horticultural career has included working in private-sector, university, and nonprofit organizations across four Midwestern states. Kristine currently collaborates with South Dakota farmers, gardeners, and organizations to conduct research and outreach on Northern Plains high tunnel management, suitable cut flowers for South Dakota, and integration of cover crops and tillage reduction practices for vegetable production.
Shannon Mutschelknaus, Wayward Springs Acres
Shannon is a mechanical engineer with 20+ years of experience doing thermal design, research & testing of large electronics mega-systems. He also owns and operates a small farm near Brookings, South Dakota where his family raises Scottish Highland beef, Jacob sheep, exotic fruit trees, super-hot peppers & two children. He has designed greenhouse heat storage systems for hobby, professional and educational growers in many parts of the world from Canada, Scotland, Norway and several states in the USA, enabling them to minimize or eliminate other energy-intensive heating systems. Shannon is obsessed with growing unique produce for our region and expanding the types of fresh foods that can be grown cost-effectively in our climate.
Dirk and Kjersten Oudman, Blue Sky Vegetable Co.
Dirk and Kjersten Oudman farm near Sioux Falls, SD at Blue Sky Vegetable Co. They currently grow three acres of mixed vegetables for a CSA and farmers market, with the help of a heated propagation house and gutter connect greenhouse. For the past seven years, they have farmed in different contexts and states but have finally found their home in South Dakota. They may love growing vegetables, but it’s animals that keep them really busy - chickens, dog, and mostly their two small children.
Rhoda Burrows, SDSU Extension
Dr. Burrows loves her work as a Horticulture Specialist with SDSU Extension, supporting fruit and vegetables growers across the state. She also offers both FSMA and GAPs food safety training for growers and students. Her educational background is in Horticulture and Plant Pathology, with both M.S. and PhD from the University of Minnesota.
Peggy Martin, Cedar Creek Gardens
Peggy Martin is a co-owner with Bud Manke at Cedar Creek Gardens near Midland, South Dakota. They have several years’ experience as market gardeners, especially with growing in high tunnels. Peggy and Bud use a combination of high tunnels and caterpillar tunnels to produce a variety of crops.
Esther McGinnis, North Dakota State University
Esther McGinnis is an Associate Professor in the North Dakota State University Department of Plant Sciences. She is also an Extension Horticulturist and Director of the NDSU Extension Master Gardener Program. Her graduate students conduct research in the areas of native plant evaluation, pollinator conservation, and plants for rain garden environments. As the administrator of the Extension Master Gardener Program, impactful initiatives include planting pollinator habitat, fighting food insecurity, community beautification, and plant diagnosis.