WV Press InSight Videos

High-tunnel farm unit taking shape in Wood County

Parkersburg News and Sentinel photo by Michael Erb The West Virginia Department of Agriculture is installing a high tunnel, an enclosed structure for growing off-season crops, next to the Little Kanawha Resource Conservation and Development Council building on Gihon Road. The unit is expected to be up and running this summer.
Parkersburg News and Sentinel photo by Michael Erb
The West Virginia Department of Agriculture is installing a high tunnel, an enclosed structure for growing off-season crops, next to the Little Kanawha Resource Conservation and Development Council building on Gihon Road. The unit is expected to be up and running this summer.

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — A high-tunnel farming unit is taking shape along Gihon Road and officials hope to have it running this summer.

Jerrod Dean, special project development coordinator for the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, said the frame of the building should be completed this week, but the next step, covering it in plastic may take more time.

“You have to have winds 5 miles per hour or less in order to put down the plastic,” he said. “Otherwise you’re just holding on to a parachute.”

The unit is being constructed next to the Little Kanawha Resource Conservation and Development Council building on Gihon Road, which is owned by the Department of Agriculture. The high tunnel is 30 feet wide and 72 feet long and stands about 15-16 foot tall, Dean said.

Dean said the structure will house a hydroponic garden which will allow certain produce to be grown year-round. Those products will then be sold locally, and Dean said officials already are talking to area restaurants and grocery stores about supplying produce. Dean said a company called Kisra has been contracted to plant, maintain, harvest and sell the produce.

“They will be the full-time operator of the high tunnel and will be doing vertical grow towers in there,” Dean said.

The high tunnel also will be used as an educational facility, allowing tours and show back-yard hydroponic and gardening techniques.

The project is expected to cost around $15,000.

“The value of the operation and what it gives back will be much, much greater than that,” Dean said.

Dean said there also are plans to create an 1-acre outdoor garden, which will allow residents to purchase and pick produce, and to create a mushroom growing program in the basement of the Little Kanawha building.

According to the state Department of Agriculture, surrounding states annually grow about $309 million worth of off-season produce. West Virginia, by contrast, grows only $26 million in off-season produce, about $18 million of which is flowers.

For more information on the high tunnel project, contact Dean at [email protected]

To read more from the Parkersburg News and Sentinel, subscribe here. 

Comments are closed.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter