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How to Build a High Tunnel: A Hands-on Experience

Tuesday, May. 7, 2024 – Wednesday, May. 15, 2024

Event Details

Do you want to learn how to build a high tunnel? Join SDSU Extension Horticulture specialists, SDSU Facilities and Services staff, and South Dakota farmer experts to gain hands-on experience while building a 30’ x 96’ gothic-style double-poly high tunnel on the SDSU campus in Brookings, SD. This four-day workshop will take place on May 7, 8, 14, and 15 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. each day. Paid registration will be required, and daily attendance will be limited. This workshop will be a great opportunity for beginning and current farmers who are considering building a high tunnel for the first time. Technical service providers, community garden leaders, and anyone who is interested in building a high tunnel are welcome to attend. Prior construction experience and/or familiarity with high tunnels is not required to attend; this event is for all to learn together!

SDSU Facilities and Services staff has constructed one of two high tunnels on the SDSU campus, and they will share their lessons learned during each day of the workshop. Farm experts from eastern South Dakota will also serve as construction team leads, and each will share their unique experiences from their own high tunnel builds. This event is a culmination of on-farm high tunnel field days and ongoing high tunnel research that has been led by Kristine Lang in partnership with extension and research experts at SDSU and North Dakota State University.
Full event details are below and should be reviewed prior to registration.

What to Expect: Specific activities each day will depend on weather and ongoing progress, so exact activities are subject to change. Our team will work to show and engage participants in as many activities as possible. The workshop will run from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. each day with rest and lunch breaks included during the day. Below is a tentative schedule of activities.

Tuesday, May 7 and Wednesday, May 8: Participants will assemble high tunnel trusses and erect them on pre-placed ground posts. Teams will learn how to install secure bows/trusses to ground posts, attach purlins between trusses, and reinforce the high tunnel with cross bracing. Installation of wiggle wire channels, baseboards, and a polycarbonate end wall will begin.

Tuesday, May 14 and Wednesday, May 15: Participants will continue the progress made in week one including the finished installation of wiggle wire channels, baseboards, and end walls. If the weather cooperates, plastic will be pulled over the high tunnel frame on May 14 or 15 at approximately 6:00 a.m. Participants will be welcome, but not required, to come early for this activity. If/once plastic is pulled over the structure everyone will learn how to secure plastic with wiggle wire and how to install roll-up sides with motors, and how to properly install the inflation fan.

Location: The SDSU Specialty Crop Research Field-South is located directly east of the SDSU Oscar Larson Performing Arts Center (1601 University Blvd, Brookings, SD 57007). Follow “SDSU Extension Horticulture” signs that will direct you to event parking.
Acknowledgement: Funding for this workshop series is provided, in part, by the South Dakota Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources Specialty Crop Block Grant Sub-recipient award 2021HR133SDSU3.

Participant Requirements: This event is for participants who are 18 years and older who are willing and able to engage with light construction tasks such as bending, lifting, and using power tools. You will be required to sign an SDSU participant waiver and video release form to complete registration for this event. Children and pets will not be allowed at this event for the safety of all participants. If a service animal or accommodation for participation is needed, please contact SDSU prior to registration.

What to Bring: Wear close-toed shoes and clothing appropriate for a construction site and the weather. Bring your favorite water bottle, sunscreen, insect repellent, gloves, and your favorite lawn chair for breaks. SDSU will provide safety equipment, tools, a shaded break area, portable restrooms, drinking water, snacks, and a boxed lunch.

Rain/Storm Dates and Refund Policy: In the event of projected rain/storms, Kristine Lang will email all participants as soon as possible. The rain date for May 7 or 8 will be Thursday, May 9, and the make-up date for May 14 or 15 will be Thursday, May 16. Refunds will NOT be issued in the event of switching to May 9 or 16, so please keep this in mind when you register.

Registration Cost/Details: Attendance will be limited to 20 participants per day to ensure a positive experience for all attendees. The cost for registration is $20 per participant, per day, and includes lunch, snacks, and all necessary safety equipment for the workshop. Visit Eventbrite to register for as many sessions as you’d like; registration will close at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 2 or when each day fills. If cost is a barrier to participation in this event, please email Kristine Lang prior to registering,

Event Audience

Public includes SDSU Faculty/Staff/Students