Hoop-house builds

Proceeds from the Selma Cafe breakfasts have created new local food production in dozens of hoop-houses, adding over 80,000 sf of four-season production to our food-shed. Many of the projects are financed with small loans from breakfast proceeds and other sources. Proceeds from this new farm production pay back the loans so as to finance additional hoops for more farmers.

The first went to Greg Willerer of Brother Nature Produce on Rosa Parks in Detroit on August 1, 2009. Greg is one of a number of urban farmers re-creating farm production in what has become a food desert in inner-city Detroit. Besides taking produce to Eastern Market each Saturday and supplying several restaurants, Greg has established a u-pick food source for his neighbors that he thinks he can now extend to every month of the year with this latest hoop. Greg was recently featured as one of the “Big Eight” in Time magazine, as one of the individuals (along with Kym Worthy, L. Brooks Patterson and others) in “The Committee To Save Detroit”.

Two weeks later on August 15th we were building off Joy Road, just north of Ann Arbor. Tomm and Trilby Becker have established SunSeed Farm. Their 30×96 hoop sits in front of a giant oak tree in the middle of one of their newly plowed fields. Tomm has been the resident farmer for the MSU Student Organic Farm, which among many other programs has created a 100 member, four-season CSA program. SunSeed may be the first 12 month CSA in the Ann Arbor area and will surely be a great addition to the choices we have available to feed ourselves. On May 22nd we helped Sunseed build its second hoop. You can read about the build in our blog.

On May 8, 2010 we built a 21×48 hoop for Spirit Farm in Detroit. Kate Devlin and her crew will use this hoop to support the giving mission of the organization. The day proved to be a challenge both in the Spring weather that delivered one squall after another, and as we discovered lots of Detroit housing history just below the surface of this now open space. The strength of our amazing volunteer crew again was up to the task and we improvised our way to completion. Read the whole story and see the assembly procedure in Lisa’s blog.

Two weeks later we were back at Sunseed Farm to build their second hoop. Mud at it’s most sticky meant we spent as much energy lifting our feet to walk as we did in actual building. Fortunately we had a huge crew of 50 and all is well in the end, with another hoop in production in Ann Arbor! Read about this muddy day in Lisa’s post.

On June 5th, 2010 We built another 3000 sf hoop for Beverly Ruesnik of Needlelane Farm. Though spring was still throwing some showers our way, and a tornado rolled by during the night as Lisa and I camped out, clobbering Dundee nearby, the site was well drained and did not present the same challenges as our previous two spring builds. This hoop was the first time that we managed to complete the entire build, including the installation of both roll-up walls in the one build day. But it was a long one! Lisa tells the rest of the story here.

Our Summer 2010 build season started with a monster 30’x144′ (about 4500 sf) hoop for John Adelmann and his family on Portage River Farm. The thunderstorms never materialized and the heavy cloud cover made the supposed high-humidity-95-degree-day feel like a mere 88 degrees or so! Follow this link to see the hoop build progression on Lisa’s blog.

On August 28th, 2010 we had a perfect hoop house build day at Capella Farm, followed by our 2nd Selma Cafe volunteer appreciation party. Two bands and a home-grown pit roasted pig kicked it right into gear! You can see here how we were able to build right over the food that was not quite ready for harvest. Look at more photos and read about it here.

On September 25th we built another 30’x96′ hoop at Brines Farm in nearby Dexter. More than 50 volunteers came out to enjoy the autumn day and up the total to 4 hoop houses for the Brines’ Family Farm. Check out the Brines Farm build day progress here.

On November 13th, 2010 we reached another landmark for the Selma Cafe crew. We had enough volunteers, and more importantly enough skilled volunteers, to take on a “2 in 1 day” project. Two hoops were put up at two Belleville farms just a mile or two down the road from each other. Stephanie Phillips of The Family Farm and Kari Smith of Black and Tan Locals each received a 30’x96′ hoop on this beautiful November day. We were stretched thin on a few key tools, but the capacity of this build crew is clearly up to the task. These were the first hoops to utilize our new pre-fab end-wall assemblies and clearly this was a big factor in getting plastic pulled on two hoops in the same day.

Our “20 hoops in 20 days” campaign, starting on June 15th, 2011 was the highlight of our building program for the year. Ending on July 4th, with a grand celebration of what independence day can really mean for a community. With lots of logistical hurdles, we still managed to build 14 hoops during this build blitz and well over 20 for the year. Build sites included Sunseed Farm, The Tilian Farm Development Center, Dawn Farm (Project Grow), Capella Farm and Peck Produce.

We will be building additional hoops as a regular part of our community agricultural development, both for new and established farmers, and for area school garden programs as well. Stay tuned for our next build dates and let us know if you wish to add hoops to your food cultivation plans.