Meet our north-western distributors; Rupert Scribner and his wife Sarah Donchi from Kenai, Alaska. Together they manage Kenai Feed & Supply, a one stop shop for livestock, pet and gardening supplies, as well as Funny River Fjord Farm, a 55-acre Norwegian Fjord horse farm which borders one of the largest wildlife refuges in the United States.
Over the past three years, Rupert and Sarah have worked with Rimol Greenhouse Systems to successfully distribute over 100 high tunnels to local growers and farmers of all ages and experience levels. Our partnership began in 2009, when Rupert, after living in Alaska for a number of years, decided to purchase a high tunnel greenhouse to grow vegetables at their Fjord horse farm.
“In Alaska, the average summer temperature is 55-60 degrees. Without a greenhouse, the growing conditions are very difficult, and the average growing season is only two to three months long,” Rupert said. “Our community is a self-sufficient minded community, especially with our isolated proximity! Many people enjoy being able to provide for themselves by hunting, fishing and farming. We discovered there is quite the market for sustainable agriculture in Alaska.”
Through their local Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), Rupert and Sarah learned they could apply for a special, government incentive program which provides funding for high tunnel greenhouses in the United States. Small scale agriculturalists, who may not be able to purchase a greenhouse on their own, can now apply to receive financial support from their local and federal government.
“Through the NRCS, Sarah and I were able to purchase our high tunnel,” Rupert said. “This program has spurred the high tunnel market in Alaska and can help pay for up to 3/4 of your greenhouse. With our Rimol greenhouse, we now have an extended growing season of eight to nine months.”
Since Rupert and Sarah’s first high tunnel purchase, the two have gone onto purchase more high tunnels for both their local farm and store. They are able to supply produce for their farm stand, providing more vegetables to the greater Kenai, Alaska community. Rupert and Sarah also consolidate Rimol Greenhouse System orders at Kenai Feed & Supply, providing greenhouses to schools and communities in Homer, Bethal, Kodiak and the Bush communities of Alaska.
The NRCS greenhouse incentive program is typically a 4-5 year commitment with your local and Federal government. As part of the commitment, small scale agriculturalists are required to record data, such as soil samples, to be used as research for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Check with your local USDA or NRCS program to learn more about their application process for high tunnels.
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