This is Valerie, feeling thankful here at Cowan Creek.

“If you love it and plant it, it will grow.  And it will grow beyond your wildest expectations.”  Frank Campbell, Grow Appalachia participant.

Frank received his high tunnel from NRCS in the fall of 2019 and was fully operational this year.  He was one of 13 who received high tunnels in Letcher County thru support from Pine Mountain Settlement School and NRCS.  Special thanks to Connie Sturgill for working with our community and more to review and see the high tunnel process thru.   Frank is a former Biology teacher and retired from Fish and Wildlife.  He was ready to go in early 2020 and supplied produce for the MCHC Farmacy program at the City of Whitesburg Farmers Market.  The special part of Frank’s high tunnel is he had a boss.

Mrs. Betty was with him daily in the high tunnel.  During Covid this was her daily outing and she worked in the garden daily.  I am blessed to be friends with the entire family and they all say the tunnel Betty’s salvation during 2020.  She was/is so careful but made her way out each day to pick beans or pull weeds in the tunnel.  Betty brings the love to the tunnel.


Bennett Quillen, Grow Appalachia participant.

Bennett’s high tunnel(s) are amazing and bring so much produce to the community.  He built his first high tunnel himself with equipment from a mines he formerly operated and it gave again.  He’s had more from NRCS since then and is now installing high tunnels for other participants.  Bennett loves to learn and loves to grow.

Debbie Cook, Grow Appalachia participant/coordinator

Debbie’s high tunnel just went up this week and guess what?  She LOVES it….are you all seeing a theme here?    Debbie says she feels very blessed to have the high tunnel sitting on the hill behind her home. She plans to grow food, herbs and medicinal plants and looks forward to 4 generations of her family working in the high tunnel and enjoying healthier food and living because of it. Debbie is on a mission to make her farm the best it can be.  Look for her Country Girl beauty line at our Farmers Market and beyond.

We can’t talk about high tunnels without talking about Connie Sturgill, NRCS. Connie works with 19 counties in EKY and has success w/all. We are so lucky to have her support here.  Five years ago the first high tunnel through NRCS came into Letcher County.  There are about 33 high tunnels at this time.  Others are learning to install and gardens want these to extend their growing season and have more control of the growing environment.

Connie says most all of our growers have done well with the tunnels and enjoy working in them.  Connie says the average high tunnel is $10K-$13K depending on the size, with the maximum size being 96×30 or 2880 sq. ft.  This price includes high tunnels, gutter, water collection tanks and irrigation system.

Thankful for the comfort these high tunnels have brought our families and communities and very thank for the food these high tunnels have brought.  I think next year we may need to keep records on high tunnel harvest and maybe get a high tunnel calendar.

For now… all be safe and eat your greens.