Taking Local Food Production Year-Round

Though the use of new portable greenhouse techniques, one farmer is looking to extend his local food growing season year-round -- in Northern Vermont.
February 7, 2009, 9am PST | Nate Berg
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"As fall gave way to winter, Johnson saw his vision vindicated. Through weeks of snow and some single-digit temperatures, Johnson supplied his community-supported agriculture (CSA) customers with fresh lettuce and other greens grown inside the unheated greenhouse. (In CSA consumers buy food directly from local farmers.)"

"Those plants stopped growing during Vermont's deep January freeze (minus 30 degrees one week), but Johnson expects to start harvesting new growth in mid-February. 'And that's pretty cool to get fresh greens from unheated greenhouses all but one month of the winter,' he says."

"Last spring the movable concept sprouted again in his imagination. Now with over 250 CSA customers, he bought four 35-x-200-foot greenhouses and erected them on steel skids. The plan was an attempt at something most people would have thought impossible in a northern climate until recently – harvesting virtually year-round."

"Johnson is one of 'a critical mass of new, innovative farmers' at the heart of 'a massive wave of change,' says Dave Rogers, national policy director of the Northeast Organic Farmers Association. 'Nationally, local food is mushrooming, and winter CSAs are developing all over the country.' He adds that even the US Department of Agriculture is getting the message: Last year's farm bill designated $100 million for organic agriculture."

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Published on Wednesday, February 4, 2009 in The Christian Science Monitor
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