Thursday, October 3, 2013

Building Unity Farm - Creating the Hoophouse

This summer, as we cleared land for the orchard, we graded a level surface for a 21x48 foot hoophouse to extend our growing season and enable us to produce greens for our table and the animals year round.

We purchased the steel for the structure from Ledgewood Greenhouses in New Hampshire and sought the help of River Valley Fencing to build it.   Although we built the 10x30 foot shade house for mushroom cultivation ourselves, creating the 21x48 foot structure required tools and equipment we do not have.

The back of the structure is T-11 plywood.  The front is lucite.   The top is a 6 millimeter UV resistant plastic that lasts about 5 years.

Inside the hoophouse, we built 16 raised beds - 87x48x12" so that we have room for 2 foot aisles.

We dug a foot deep foundation underneath the raised beds and filled it with 12 cubic yards of composted alpaca/llama manure (we have plenty).   When then filled the raised beds with a combination of compost, moss, and vermiculite.

The hardest part of project was creating a water supply that would work in the winter.   We dug a four foot trench from our well equipment to the hoop house and attached a yard hydrant with a 4 foot burial depth.    Since the frost line in Massachusetts is 36-42 inches, water will flow throughout the year, even in the depth of winter.   We also ran an electrical line in the same trench to power the temperature controlled fans in the hoop house.

Next week we'll plant our Fall/Winter vegetables - lettuces, spinach, kale, chard, and  garlic.

As we approach the end of 2013, the building phase of the farm is coming to an end.   We've finished the hoop house, the mushroom growing area, the orchard, the cider house, and the duck house this year.   We're now ready to spend the next 30 years growing, learning, and using everything we've created.

I've never considered myself a prepper but if the zombie apocalypse does come, we'll be able to sustain ourselves from the farm around us.