Tunnel house dedicated at SHS

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 10, 2014


Even though recent rains provided a somewhat muddy backdrop, state dignitaries didn’t mind getting their shoes a little dirty for Straughn High School’s tunnel house dedication Tuesday morning.

The tunnel house, which is a special greenhouse, spans 20-feet by 48-feet and is supported with wooden beams from top to bottom being held together by specially-made hurricane brackets. It was built with the help of SHS agricultural students, Wiregrass RC&D executive director James Currington and Tuskeegee plant breeder/horticulturist Victor Kahn. Straughn’s new house became only the fourth school to get the wooden model in the 10-county Wiregrass area.

A high tunnel hoop house is a freestanding or gutter-connected covered structure, without heating or electrical power, using passive ventilation for air exchange and cooling, and an irrigation system for crop production.

Sen. Jimmy Holley, R-Elba, who was in attendance along with Rep. Mike Jones, R-Andalusia, said that the tunnel house will provide a means for students to learn quite a lot.

“This project speaks for itself,” Holley said. “It’s going to provide a vast amount of knowledge gathered and garnered from a project like this.”

Before a crowd showed up at the tunnel house for its dedication to the school, Kahn was busy getting things ready for planting. He said right now, there is kale, cabbage and collards being grown in the house, which serves as a way to grow plants longer.

Over the top of the house, there is a layer of polyethylene, which allows in and traps sunlight.

“This serves as an outdoor living laboratory to reinforce the practical aspects of biological germination,” Khan said. “This gives agricultural science, with biological sciences and experience with building sciences and vocational.”

The cost of the project was $2,000, Currington said.

Most of the work to build the house was provided by students.

“The students didn’t want to leave during the construction,” Currington said.

The Wiregrass RC&D funded the building of the tunnel house with the Covington County Soil and Water Conservation district serving as co-sponsors.

Jones said the tunnel house will give students the opportunity to work with their hands.

“This provides a good way for students to look with their hands,” Jones said.

Covington County Superintendent Shannon Driver said kids a generation ago knew how to farm. The house will give them knowledge of not only farming, but about gardening and science as well.

Most importantly, the students will be able to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom and put it into the ground, district conservationist Steve Yelverton said.