By surveying current and previous high/low tunnel growers, the researchers can identify: 1) reasons why they grow/grew berry crops in the tunnels; 2) common obstacles (e.g., financial, marketing challenges, structural issues) they have encountered; 3) how they learn about plastic film features and what factors influence their purchasing decision; and 4) how they handle and dispose of plastic after being removed from the tunnels.
Growers who have not yet produced a berry crop in a high/low tunnel, but have plans to do so, will be asked to indicate: 1) what is primarily influencing their decision to grow berries in tunnels; 2) expectations regarding berry crop yields; 3) new markets they hope to serve with berries they harvest from the tunnels; and 4) any experiences they have had with selecting plastics, growing other crops under plastic films, and disposing of, reusing, and/or recycling plastics.
A survey will be developed and administered to consumers to learn about: 1) their berry purchasing behaviors; 2) attitudes and behaviors pertaining to recycling and local food production; 3) preferences when weighing plastics use vs. potential for reduced pesticide applications; and 4) response to price premiums associated with costs growers may acquire when using tunnels.
Responses to survey questions will yield the following outcomes:
- The protective structure industry will better understand their clientele's uses of, needs, issues and benefits regarding protective structures and plastics
- The recycling industry will better understand grower viewpoints on constraints related to recycling of tunnel plastics
- Development of realistic strategies for increasing tunnel plastics recycling
- Growers will understand consumer demand, and likelihood to purchase berries grown under protective structures
- Growers will understand consumer response to premium priced berries