SLUG hoop house to extend garden’s growing season

Maija Anstine

Around 40 students attended the raising of a new hoop house at the Sustainable Lawrence University Garden on Sunday, April 11. The event was preceded by a hoop house workshop on Friday, April 9.
A hoop house is a greenhouse-like structure that promises to extend the SLUG growing season, providing a more regular influx of fresh produce to dining services for student consumption.
Efforts to erect the hoop house have been in progress since early second term and were discussed at SLUG’s weekly meetings. SLUG member Sophie Patterson applied for a grant for hoop house construction through the Lawrence Environmental Responsibility Committee, and many others contributed to the end product.
Members Oren Jakobson, Rosie Graber and Adam Cox were “instrumental in keeping the action of the hoop house going,” said event organizer Laura Streyle. Stacey Day also served as one of the event’s primary coordinators.
Jakobson estimated the total construction costs at $1,600, plus labor, though much of the labor came from students who attended the events on Friday and Sunday.
Student volunteers who attended the workshop on Friday bent long plastic poles that arch across the top of the hoop house, while Sunday efforts included pounding stakes into the hoop house foundation, a difficult task due to the underlying rock quarry.
A plastic cover will be draped over the entire structure in September, essential once temperatures drop in the fall. “Sunlight goes through the plastic and bounces around inside the hoop house so that there is almost a glow inside,” explained Streyle. “This is how the plants get light for photosynthesis.”
Day explained how strategically placed piles of compost and thermoregulatory walls of half-filled water bottles will also help to keep plants warm, all “big ideas open to easy modification.”
The hoop house will provide room for more raised beds for winter greens such as a new spinach crop that Jakobson says should be harvested around Thanksgiving this year. SLUG’s biggest hope for the hoop house is that it will extend the garden’s growing season. As participant Will Meadows summarized, “We’re changing the world, one season at a time.”
Streyle explained that the hoop house workshop is a continuation of SLUG’s larger theme of workshopping this spring. A canning workshop is coming up soon as well.
Students of all gardening experience levels are encouraged to come to the SLUG garden to get their hands dirty. There are 19 possible hours to work during the week. The work schedule is posted to the right of the main stairway on the third floor of the Warch Campus Center.