Temperatures are forecast to be in the 80s this week, but not every transition into spring will be this mild (we hope). To get a head start on the growing season — and help us keep growing into the fall and even the winter — we plan to put up a hoop house this year.
Also called high tunnels, these structures are often made of metal tubes or hoops pushed into the earth, and are covered with greenhouse plastic. Unlike a greenhouse, most of them are passively heated and cooled. For our first year, we are planning on filling ours with tomatoes.
Hoop houses are a major investment for a farm, and we might not have jumped at the chance to own one if not for a grant we applied for and received through the Natural Resources Conservation Service. NRCS offers grants for many kinds of growing and conservation practices. The terms of the grant mean that about two-thirds of the hoop house will be paid for, if the farmer holds up the agreement. Our particular agreement requires us to pursue organic certification, but that’s something we wanted to do anyway.
After a few years, the agreement terminates. The NRCS gets data about how farmers use the hoophouse, and the farmers get help with a major investment for their business.
But first, we have to build it. We are hosting a workshop at the farm for people who are interested in how hoop houses are put together. The hope is that by the end of the day, most of the hoop house will be up and everyone will have learned about these structures.
Cary Rivard, K-State Extension vegetable and fruit specialist will lead the construction process offering valuable tips along the way. During lunch Dan Nagengast, c0-owner of Seeds from Italy and Wild Onion Farm, will contribute his experience building and growing in high tunnels.
We’d like to thank the Kansas Rural Center and K-State Extension for making this workshop possible. The workshop is free; register here.