EQIP High Tunnels, more commonly known as hoop houses, have been popping up all over Kodiak in the past few years. EQIP stands for Environmental Quality Incentives Program.
Dave Kaplan is a certified U.S. Department of Agriculture conservation planner and technical service provider, and does inspections and surveys around the island for new hoop houses. Kaplan says there are more than 50 High Tunnels on the island, and explains why Kodiak is a hotspot for them.
“You know, they work everywhere. If there’s sun, they work. It’s just an alternative; it provides an incredible food source. It’s amazing: you can grow anything in there. Every high tunnel that I inspect, I’m just amazed what they grow and how healthy the vegetables are. It’s an incredible unit.”
Hoop houses are increasingly more popular in part because of a nationwide program that actually reimburses people who chose to build them. Applying for a High Tunnel, or at least one that will be reimbursed, is a lengthy process, and includes follow up inspections after the hoop house is built.
“What they do is they apply for the program, you know, through an EQIP application, they follow all the protocol, they get a specifically designed High Tunnel kit, and they put it together, and they start growing, and then they go through a series of inspections. A lot of them do self pest and nutrient management, and once they pretty much satisfy the protocol they are reimbursed.”
The Kodiak Soil and Water Conservation District, is putting on walk-ins throughout the summer. Kaplan, among others, will be available to answer questions, and provide applications and documents regarding High Tunnels, and to discuss the National Resource Conservation Service’s, or NRCS’s, Cost Share Program.
“It’s not just the High Tunnel, too. We have several ranchers that do EQIP cost sharing program with fencing, irrigation, it’s not just the High Tunnel. Right now I’m working on a conservation plan for the fairgrounds, so it’s not just High Tunnels, it could be anything that is through the USDA, NRCS resource program, it could be fencing, it could be trails.”
The walk-ins will be held at the Kodiak Soil and Water Conservation District Office from 9 am to noon every Wednesday from now until September 10th.