The NRCS conservation planner came out to our place to check the location and the soil. The visit was useful as we walked the majority of our property and realized we can setup two more fields for production. We will be using 30″ raised beds with 15″ walkways on either side. Each bed will be 100′ long. The main field will have 25 of these beds and the two side fields can accommodate another 11 beds. Our next step is to get some soil samples analyzed. This is all part of the process for the EQIP program.
Rimol High Tunnels
To our knowledge the Kenai only has one commercial seller for tunnels. Kenai Feed & Supply carries Rimol tunnels. From our research, the Rimol tunnels are sturdy and well suited for Alaska winters.
Rimol sells a number of accessories for the tunnels such as doors, heaters, and fans. These tunnels can be expensive but do qualify for the NRCS EQIP program. The 30×72 with double poly, roll-up sides, and an auto vent will cost approximately $12K. These can be setup without professional help but it is a considerable amount of work. The poly is particularly tough to do without 3 or 4 people. Kenai Feed & Supply offers setup for approximately another $8K. The EQIP program will refund $4/square foot. This would offset the setup or a good chunk of the tunnel if you take on the setup yourself. Rimol only sells through their dealer network such as Kenai Feed.
Farmers Friend Tunnels
Farmers Friend is a smaller tunnel manufacturer. Their tunnels are not as industrial as Rimol but they are considerably cheaper. In addition, they will sell directly to the public. The Rimol tunnel described above sells for about half as much if it could be purchased directly from Rimol (Kenai Feed’s higher price does however include some upgrades to the Rimol package). Granted shipping would be additional but these tunnel sellers will ship for free anywhere in the continental US. The shipping costs will then be from the Canadian border up to Alaska.
These high tunnels come in a variety of sizes. We are considering two 16×50 tunnels. Each tunnel sells for approximately $2K. We talked with Farmers Friend who recommended having the tunnels shipped to Fife, WA. From there American Fast Freight (800-642-6664) can truck them up to the Kenai terminal in Soldotna. We priced out the shipping and found that the total cost for the tunnels and shipping will come in under $5K. An advantage of these tunnels is that they are easier to assemble for 1 or 2 people. The Rimol 30×72 provides an additional 460 square feet but at an additional cost of $15K (assuming professional setup).
We were originally only considering Rimol given the Alaska winters until we saw some You Tube videos by Curtis Stone. Curtis is undeniably one of the bootstrap farmer Kings. He went from using his own yard to leasing land and has shared all his experience along the way. He also lives in Canada and is a big proponent of Farmers Friend tunnels. His weather is similar to ours so we are now leaning toward these tunnels given the price difference. Keep in mind that if you live in the lower US, the Rimol tunnels could be considerably more competitive price-wise.