Butte county farmers dealing with expensive permits to get tunnel

Some Butte County farmers are having a tough time getting permits for structures that can make a big difference in growing their crops. One of those farmers is named Amelia Waldron. Waldron can sometimes be found around the chickens, pigs, and sprouting vegetables.

"We do a lot of lettuce," Waldron explained. "And then for summer, we do tomatoes, peppers." She then sells those things at the Wednesday farmers market off Pillsbury Road in Chico.

Most of that produce is grown in a high tunnel. "They're similar to greenhouses as they both use plastic. But you would generally have pots and pans in a greenhouse. And in a high tunnel, they're going to be grown directly in the ground."

Waldron previously had two high tunnels at her Butte Valley farm. The problem she encountered was that both were bigger than 120 square feet. So the county told her to take them both down. "We built them and put all our crops in them last spring. And then after about two months, we reported by our neighbors for having unpermitted greenhouses," Waldron said. 

Her neighbors thought she was growing weed. "We ended up losing most of our spring crops, right before we were supposed to go to farmers' market, so that was kind of a big hit for us," Waldron said.

To help that, the county wants to get rid of high tunnel building permits, which can sometimes cost nearly $800. Not to mention paying an engineer.

"So that can be several thousand dollars," said Curtis Johnson, the building division manager for Butte County. "We really looked at these structures as a very low hazard to occupants in the surrounding community. Based on the lightweight."

Read the complete article at www.actionnewsnow.com.

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