Just off the Press, the London Free Press

An Amish farm is using a different kind of greenhouse to grow year- round

Local veggies – all year | London | News | London Free Press. click here to read the whole article


The London Free Press MALAHIDE TOWNSHIP — Imagine eating a fresh salad made up of locally grown, organic lettuce, carrots and spinach. In January. Didn’t think again.

MIKE HENSENJeff Pastorius of On the Move Organics shows off some of the produce that can be bought year-round from local growers.In an innovative but simple back-tobasics move, a small Amish farm near Aylmer is growing all that delicious produce in small, unheated “ hoop houses.”

Mervin Miller’s farm is only the second known in Ontario to have pulled off such a feat. The other is in Cookstown, north of Newmarket.

“ When you do things like this, you do it by trial and error,” said Miller, who got the idea from U. S. farmer Eliot Coleman, who has written several books on the subject, including Four Season Harvest.

“ We’ll be harvesting by the middle of April instead of planting,” he said. “ That’s our goal — to produce quality food year-round.”

Carrots, spring mix lettuce, spinach and tatsoi — a dark Asian salad green similar to bok choy — are all sprouting from the ground inside two hoop houses, made of galvanized steel tubes and wrapped in plastic, on Miller’s 20-hectare farm. Another layer of material placed 30 centimetres over each row helps trap heat that’s created inside the hoop houses from the sun.

Think greenhouse without electricity.

Hoop houses are typically used to extend the growing season, but not normally to grow through the winter.

With a simple design and no electricity, hoop houses are a sustainable, low-impact way to grow produce in a season most don’t associate with farming.

The small, tight-knit community to which Miller belongs, which includes HOPE eco-farm co-operative, wants to venture into more hoop-house growing.

“ It’s amazing, it’s thrilling,” said Jeff Pastorius, who runs On The Move Organics, an independent seller of vegetables — some of which comes from Miller’s farm.

“ This is a lot of hard work. . . . For independent farmers to continue to farm, you need to support them and recognize those prices are going to be higher than the artificially priced produce coming from California,” he said.

“ The possibility of what we’re working through here is unfathomable.”

This time of year, Ontarians are used to eating more root vegetables, but lack local greens, Pastorius said.

“ This ( hoop-house growing) is an alternative to our current system,” he said.

Julie Richards-Bramhill, who organizes the delivery of boxes of locally produced food for Triple Cord

it was

possible? Think MORE: See the hoop house bounty at lfpress. com/ videos

January 24, 2011

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2 Responses to Just off the Press, the London Free Press

  1. Pingback: Clearing the Ground: Proof That I’m a Flatlander Lost in the Hills « Woodchuck's Apprentice

  2. Jodi Sanders says:

    Either way it could generate profits for you this spring as you gain an extra month on the tomato or pepper market by using hoop houses in your field says Steve Upson a horticulturist with the Noble Foundation in Ardmore Okla. Hoop houses are used extensively in New England and in Asian countries.


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