Today US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the winning proposals for the 2011 Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG), including $5,000 for Yestermorrow's new demonstration greenhouse design and construction. According to the USDA's website, "through CIG, the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is investing nearly $22.5 million in innovative conservation technologies and approaches that address a broad array of existing and emerging natural resource issues."
According to Vilsack, "The grants will help to spur creativity and problem solving to benefit conservation-minded farmers and ranchers. Everyone who relies upon the sustainability of our nation's natural resources for clean water, food and fiber, or their way of life, will benefit from these grants."
Yestermorrow's greenhouse project is currently in design development, working with Zach Weiss from Perpetual Green Gardens and a variety of Yestermorrow faculty who will contribute their expertise to the design process. Current Kitchen/Garden Intern Josh Capodarco has taken a lead in coordinating the planning and helped to research and write the winning grant proposal.
The greenhouse will demonstrate a variety of innovative technologies including a "Jean Pain mound" (woodchip compost) to heat the soil, a biochar stove to increase soil fertility and provide emergency backup heat, rainwater catchment for irrigation, and an integrated chicken coop. We plan to move forward with construction of the greenhouse once a site is determined through our current master planning process. Yestermorrow's greenhouse will not only serve as an example to its students interested in household scale greenhouses, but will be open to local farmers and community members so that a wide variety of people can learn from the technologies demonstrated by the project.