Hoophouse hoopla

Hoophouse construction

Hoophouse construction at Abbe Hills Farm

Farmers, students and other advocates of sustainable living gathered at Laura Krouse’s Abbe Hills Farm near Mount Vernon today to learn how to build a hoophouse. Adam Montri, outreach coordinator for Michigan State University’s student organic farm, is leading the workshop, which continues Thursday (April 9, 2009.) Some of the participants hope to extend their growing season with a hoophouse – a sort of low-tech greenhouse that doesn’t require supplemental light or heat. One farmer I spoke to, Russ Brandes, of Hancock – in western Iowa – is considering constructing a

Russ Brandes

Russ Brandes

hoophouse to store his excess hay. A hoophouse would be more economical than building a barn, he said.

Sally Worley, communications director for Practical Farmers of Iowa, which is hosting the free event, said about 50 people from Iowa and Illinois were attending throughout the two-day workshop.

Alex Kachan

Alex Kachan

Among attendees were 9 students from Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, who are in a new Community Supported Agriculture block. Their instructor, Alex Kachan, a faculty member in the university’s sustainable living department, said the CSA track was just started this spring, as part of the school’s ongoing effort to raise consciousness about sustainable living practices.

Laura Krause and her summer workers produce vegetables for about 200 families through her farm’s CSA. A great place to spend a sunny (albeit windy) spring day. You can check out the hoophouse if your travels take you on Mount Vernon Road, east of Cedar Rapids. The farm is just north of Mount Vernon Road on Abbe Hills Road – soon to be recognizable by a 35-by-96-foot double poly hoophouse.

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