Hoop – there it is (soon)! NFI’s new hoophouse is coming!

November 24, 2010

Author: Neighborhood Farm Initiative

Category: General News

For any farmer or gardener looking to get started growing fresh vegetables, step one is finding some suitable land. Once you’ve got that figured out, there’s some fairly routine seasonal preparation you’ll tackle like soil testing, digging or tilling or otherwise prepping the area, adding soil amendments, and then you’re finally ready to plant!

For spring crops, here in DC you can pop those seeds right in the ground – but for summer crops, those seeds need to get started no later than March 1st if you want a productive crop of tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and lots of herbs. However, it’s waaaaay too cold for those summer babies to make it in DC’s cool spring weather – so you’re going to need to do one of two things. Either you can spend thousands of dollars on purchasing organically-grown seedlings from various retail suppliers, or you can find a way to start your own seeds indoors.

In the case of NFI, we have been truly lucky to find donated greenhouse space for the past two seasons, and we’re incredibly grateful for that. Everything considered, for next season, NFI has decided to partner with My Organic Garden to construct our very own hoophouse on a donated half-acre site in Adelphi, Maryland. The land is privately owned and not subject to restrictions by the DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, which means we can actually grow enough plants to sell our own seedlings in a series of spring fundraisers!

Our goal is to have the hoophouse pay for itself in the first year of operation, as well as provide us a permanent place to grow our own seedling starts for the cumulative acre or so that we manage in gardens scattered across NE, SE, and now NW DC.

Help us out!
We need volunteers to help assemble the structure! The site is accessible by Bus Routes R1, R2, or R5 which leave DC from Fort Totten Station (red, green & yellow line trains & loads more bus lines). There’s also plenty of street parking around the site. Most of the work will be done on Sundays in December and January, but the first hoophouse workday is this Sunday, November 28 at 10am. Email Bea at neighborhoodfarm@gmail.com for directions and details.

Also, our hoophouse site has no water or electrical hookups, so we’ve been playing with some creative designs for heating, water collection, and water pumping. We’ve got a plan – but we’d love some feedback from engineering types over the next couple of weeks!

Are you part of a garden club, community garden, spring festival organizer, or other group that would like to commission us for a seedling order? We can grow varieties of your choosing, and work out the details. Or we can send someone to come sell plants at your springtime event. Get in touch if you’d like to discuss specifics!

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