Government Money In Your Pocket
The NRCS (Natural Resource Conservation Service) has the EQIP ( Environmental Quality Incentives Program) program to provide financial and technical assistance to agricultural growers. Here are two helpful links:
The beauty of this program is that it is not just for commercial growers but individual gardeners as well. We talked with the Homer Soil & Water people about the program.
Some basic requirements need to be met to qualify for the program and then some ongoing information reporting when operative. You will need to have an existing crop growing on at least the same square footage as the high tunnel that you want to purchase. Local NRCS field office personnel will help you test your soil and determine the best location for the tunnel. If you do not have an existing crop (like us), you will need to clear the land, cultivate it, and plant something. We are going to plant potatoes. They will come out again to verify the crop and then submit the application.
The Homer field office told us that the reimbursement can take a year or more. You will be setting everything up (land and high tunnel) on your own dollar. The reimbursement works out to about $4 per square foot. It is a flat rate. Here in Alaska, we expect that to cover a bit less than half the tunnel purchase and setup costs.
In our case, we are looking to start with a Rimol Nor’Easter 30’x72′. The tunnel itself will cost approximately $11,700. Setup could run an additional $10,000. We will see what we can do ourselves to shave some of the setup if not take it on ourselves. With this tunnel at today’s rates, the program would reimburse us for approximately $8,640. All land preparation and initial potato crop costs are additional.
You have flexibility in the type and brand of high tunnel that you choose. We selected Rimol because it can be purchased locally on the Kenai Peninsula and has decent reviews.
Hopefully this post will help provide some basics of the program and costs. Keep in mind that this pertains to the Alaska program. State to state programs could differ.
Be well & dream green… Jeff