Longtime Sitka gardener Judy Johnstone will be able to extend the growing season at her Sprucecot Garden on Peterson Street after a crew erected two new high tunnels on her land.
The high tunnels, which basically are temporary greenhouses with a large frame holding a transparent plastic cover and without a built-in power supply, already have raised the temperatures inside by about 15-20 degrees over the low-50s we’ve had in Sitka so far this summer. They will enable Judy to start her plants earlier in the spring and keep producing food later into the fall.
The high tunnels were funded through a cost-sharing program run by the USDA National Resources Conservation Service, which is accepting applications for new high tunnel projects through June 15.
These are the first high tunnels to go up in Sitka, but there have been several built in other parts of the state (the lower Kenai Peninsula near Homer has about 90 of them). Since these are the first high tunnels in Sitka, they’ve received lots of coverage in the local media. The Daily Sitka Sentinel featured an article on Page 1 of its Friday, June 8, 2012, edition (password required), and KCAW-Raven Radio featured Judy and Sitka Local Foods Network President Kerry MacLane in its Monday, June 11, 2012, Morning Edition show interview and in a story on its Tuesday, June 12, 2012, newscasts.