McGeaughay Old Time Farms High Tunnel Project - Montana
In northern Montana, the average growing season is short: from late spring to early fall. In order to extend the time that fresh, local produce is available to area residents and to give a boost to an innovative instrument for increasing harvests, the Northwest Regional RC&D Council helped Norman and Francis McGeaughay, owners of Old Time Farms in Ronan, Montana, obtain a mini-grant from the NARC&DC for a high tunnel.
In its first season, the tunnel has been a great success. Measuring 105 feet long and 24 feet wide, with a wooden frame and plastic skin, the tunnel provides a controlled environment in which the McGeaughays have grown watermelon, cantaloupe, corn, and other crops. Yields have been excellent and labor has been reduced due to the special features of the high tunnel: plants are healthier and protected from inclement weather, and pests (including rodents and deer) and weeds are more easily controlled. As a result, the harvested crops are of better quality and higher quantity than field-raised crops. The high tunnel is also expected to extend the growing season by a total of three months, six weeks in the spring and six weeks in the fall. The McGeaughays now hope for three crop harvests per year, thus increasing their income while providing local residents with wonderful farm-fresh produce.