From Scenic Valley:

Scenic Valley Farms recently installed the first subterranean solar thermal high tunnel at our farm in Readstown. The novel system is designed to significantly extend the growing season while also providing winter protection for blackberries.

The system works by capturing the energy of the sun and releasing it to moderate temperatures. Throughout the day, thermostatically controlled intake fans draw heated air from near the peak of the high tunnel and store the energy below ground in a thermal mass. When supplemental heat is needed to maintain optimal growing conditions, these same fans pull the cooler air through the thermal mass where it is warmed before circulating back into the high tunnel.

Solar thermal heating and cooling systems are a key technology in the SHARE farms being developed by our company. They are also ideal as a standalone technology for high tunnel growers who want to improve the profitability and sustainability of their farms.

The initial system was placed in operation in late November and we have installed temperature data loggers in both a traditional and the solar heated high tunnel to compare the results.

We have also applied for a 1603 grant to offset 30 percent of the installation costs and will be notified within 60 days if our request is approved.