Butler Family Farm, Extension helping high tunnel novices

By Chase Jordan - [email protected]
Hartsfield -

After having success growing tomatoes in a high tunnel, farmer Timmy Butler is looking forward to showing others how to get a good crop.

Sampson County Cooperative Extension is hosting a High Tunnel Production workshop for interested farmers and growers from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 27, at Butler Family Farm, 110 Goodman Butler Road, Clinton. The workshop is for new high tunnel growers or anyone interested in purchasing one. In agriculture, high tunnels may be used to extend the growing season and enhance growth and yield for a variety of horticultural crops.

The upcoming event will feature a demonstration from Butler. Butler’s family has operated the farm for many generations. It was started by his grandfather in 1909 and now produces a variety of crops. With the right tools, tomatoes can grow inside the tunnel all year-round. Butler is now in the fall growing season after having success in the spring.

“With anything else, it’s a learning process for us, but I think we made some pretty good inroads this year,” Butler said about the process, which is new to his farm.

During the upcoming session, Butler will talk about some of the challenges they were confronted with when it comes to marketing and deciding what type of crops to grow.

The farm is GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) certified through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the work, which mostly goes to supermarkets. Butler said it’s a big plus for the business.

“When you start wanting to go into supermarkets, restaurants and commercial, that GAP certification lets them know that you reached out and did beyond what was required to make sure was handling produce in the proper way,” Butler said.

During the event, a representative from the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service will be available to discuss a cost sharing program to assist with high tunnel production. James Hartsfield, a Sampson farm management agent, said the program may pay up to 90 percent of funding.

“There could be some opportunities for socially disadvantaged farmers to purchase a high tunnel,” Hartsfield said. “If they want to put up a high tunnel it could help with the costs.”

Transportation to the farm will be provided. For more information or to reserve a seat, contact Hartsfield by Monday, Nov. 20, at the Cooperative Extension by calling 910-592-7161.


By Chase Jordan

[email protected]

Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.

Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.