Specialty Crops

2018 – Linking Experienced and Beginning Kansas Specialty Crop Farmers to Share Information for Establishing Successful Specialty Crop Enterprises

To access the specialty crop farmer profiles produced as a part of this project, please visit – https://kansasruralcenter.org/category/tunnel-to-table/farmer-profiles/.

In the fall of 2017, KRC received funding from the Kansas Department of Agriculture through the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant program for a project aimed at linking experienced and beginning specialty crop farmers and providing information and networking opportunities to help beginning farmers lower production costs, increase profitability, and create successful specialty crop enterprises in Kansas. The project, which is titled“Linking Experienced and Beginning Kansas Specialty Crop Farmers to Share Information for Establishing Successful Specialty Crop Enterprises Project,” will include five specialty crop workshops during March 2018 that will provide information and education necessary for beginning specialty crop growers to establish a successful specialty crop enterprise in Kansas. The workshops will focus on conservation, production and marketing practices for specialty crop growers, and will provide an excellent opportunity for beginning growers to connect with and learn from experienced growers.

Experienced specialty crop growers and experts from partnering institutions and agencies will provide information on conservation practices and soil health, high tunnel construction and management, cold storage, marketing strategies, and basic economics of specialty crops. Conservation and management practices (such as cover crops, crop rotations, pest and weed management strategies, beneficial insects, etc.) can dramatically impact the bottom line of farms through improving system productivity and profitability. Better understanding of the costs and benefits of these practices and the potential revenues from key vegetables and fruits well-suited to Kansas can help specialty crop farmers succeed.

In addition to providing valuable information education, the workshops will offer beginning farmers the chance to connect with experienced growers to provide for continued access to information and advice.

In addition to the regional workshops, KRC will work with beginning specialty crop growers to pair them with experienced specialty crop growers to facilitate farmer to farmer transfer of knowledge and information. KRC will facilitate a learning circle meeting of ten farmers to determine further educational and resource needs, to share information, and to serve as case study subjects for farm profiles for publication statewide.

2016 – Growing Under Cover Part 2

The Kansas Rural Center’s Tunnels to Table Project entered its second phase in 2016. Dan Phelps took the project through its initial phase, reaching out to farmers across the state and completing the Growing Under Cover manual. In 2016, we are building upon this success and adding more depth to the previous work by focusing on the economics of high tunnel production. Tom Buller, a fruit and vegetable producer from Lawrence has stepped in to continue his work. Tom has been growing specialty crops for ten years, and has worked with 2 high tunnels. This project will focus upon the practices of five successful growers from across the state of Kansas and work to develop crop enterprise budgets of the most commonly grown high tunnel crops. By focusing upon the economics of high tunnel production, this project will make a convincing case that high tunnel production can be a very profitable part of agricultural production in Kansas.

For more on the second phase of this project, please visit – https://kansasruralcenter.org/category/tunnel-to-table/.

2014 – Growing Under Cover Part 1

In 2014, the Kansas Rural Center undertook a project to help Kansas farmers evaluate polytunnel options that would assist them in expanding specialty crop production on their farms. The KRC “Tunnel to Table” project produced a resource guide, decision-making tool, and regional workshop series, which took place throughout the 2014 growing season. A Specialty Crop Block grant awarded by the Kansas Department of Agriculture provided support for the project.

The Kansas Rural Center’s “Tunnel to Table” project was designed to help  Kansas farmers evaluate polytunnel (ex: high or low tunnel) options that would assist them in expanding specialty crop production on their farms.  During the 2014 growing season, KRC held regional Tunnel to Table workshops across Kansas and developed and released a resource guide and decision-making tool for farms.

To learn more about Tunnel to Table, please follow this link.