The trouble with being a town-marooned farm boy is the green thumb throbs this time of year with no real outlet. I've been flirting with finding an out-of-the-way spot on the home place to build some tunnel houses just so the kids can get a little field-to-table experience, and, if their heart is in it, maybe a side enterprise. The itch arrives about the same time seed catalogs, longer days and daffodils—too late in the season to really get it going given all the rest of a modern family's activities.
And yet—there's money in those hoops. Got a release today from the NRCS that says Missouri is tops in grant funding for something called the High Tunnel Initiative. Looks like the funds are directed toward historically underserved and beginning farmers and you can get $2.57 or $3.08 per square foot in cost share for the structure. Apply by March 30.
Details are below if you're interested.
NRCS offers financial assistance, $2.57 per square foot or $3.08 per square foot for beginning or historically underserved farmers, for high tunnels up to 2,178 square feet through the Environmental quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Landowners may construct larger high tunnels, but any square footage greater than 2,178 is at the landowner's expense. Since 2010, 162 Missouri producers have installed high tunnels through EQIP. NRCS has paid $715,000 to those producers. Applications for seasonal high tunnels are being accepted on a continuous basis although three application period cutoffs have been established to evaluate and approve those received to date. The dates for the remaining two application periods are March 30 and June 1. Those interested in applying for a seasonal high tunnel may submit an application to their local NRCS service center. NRCS can be found in the phone book under "U.S. Government, Department of Agriculture," or online at http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app. Under the High Tunnel Loan Program, Missouri producers who have been approved by NRCS through either the USDA NRCS EQIP Season High Tunnel Initiative or the EQIP Organic Initiative for a seasonal high tunnel reimbursement may be eligible for a short term loan from the Missouri Agricultural and Small Business Development Authority. Loans are available at a fixed rate of 7.5 percent interest for the amount obligated to the producer by USDA NRCS for a term of up to one year. Contact the Missouri Department of Agriculture for more information at 573-751-2129.