Karen and Ed Speer, Sweet Betsy Farm
Grant Award: $6,000
To address a lack of availability of plant starts and problems with irrigation, erosion and fungal diseases that have negatively impacted their output, Karen and Ed plan are now propagating their own specialty hot-pepper and vegetable plant starts. They have built three of four planned 200-square-foot caterpillar tunnels over existing amended beds and have installed a rain barrel-fed, gravity-drip irrigation system to irrigate the entire growing area without the need to install electrical infrastructure.
They have purchased seeds, shelving, trays, pots, lights and other equipment to set up a planting and propagation space in an existing work room. The caterpillar tunnels allowed the pepper plants to be transplanted weeks earlier than with direct seeding, which will facilitate an extended harvest.
In addition to growing peppers to meet demand for their line of honey hot sauce, they will use the tunnels and equipment to grow lettuce, cucumbers, beans, heirloom tomatoes, squash, herbs and cut flowers to sell at their on-farm store, online and at a pop-up farmers market they organize with other local growers.