Is there a hoophouse in your future?
Hoophouses are becoming a popular way for gardeners and vegetable farmers to extend our Michigan growing season.
There is a hoophouse frenzy going on in Michigan. The consumer demand to have local, fresh vegetables year-round has motivated hundreds of producers to invest in hoophouses on their farms. An added bonus is a Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) cost share program that has assisted an estimated 300 producers in the last three years in funding their hoophouse construction in Michigan. Producers interested in the possibility of the cost share should contact their local NRCS office.
With so many new hoophouse operators there is both a need and a great opportunity to learn and share experiences. Michigan is fortunate that the MSU Student Organic Farm staff and others have been building and operating hoophouses for several years. Their experience, research and knowledge are extremely helpful. This valuable information can be accessed through the Michigan State University Hoophouse website. This website contains information about hoophouse workshops, research projects, bulletins, fact sheets and other resources.
Here is a brief list of some of the resources:
- Model Business Plan for Season Extension with Hoophouses, MSUE bulletin E-3112
- General High Tunnel Planting Schedule
- Hoophouse Farming Start up: Economics, Efforts and Experiences from 12 Novice Hoophouse Farmers, MSU Extension Bulletin 3138
- High Tunnels: Using Low-Cost Technology to Increase Yields, Improve Quality and Extend the Season, University of Vermont Center for Sustainable Agriculture.
- Marketing Tips for your Hoophouse Produce
An exciting development is the formation of a marketing cooperative, Four Seasons Produce Co-op, which is made up of hoophouse farmers who produce and provide fresh greens to local customers near Jackson, Ann Arbor and Lansing, Mich. Producers interested in joining can visit their website or contact Jane Bush by calling 517-231-2240.
Watch for information about farm tours this summer and throughout the year that will provide opportunities for hoophouse operators to share experiences and network together.
MSU Extension and the MSU Product Center can assist producers in adding value with hoophouses to their existing farm operations or help new producers get started. Educators and innovation counselors can provide technical knowledge and help with business development in launching these types of value-added enterprises.