It’s a 24-foot by 48-foot piece of farming equipment similar to a greenhouse. It has two layers of solar plastic that lets light in and sits on a track that allows it to move over gardens depending on the season. It requires a level surface and access to water and electricity. And this “hoop house” may cost over $10,000 to purchase and assemble.
The Center for Sustainability and the Environment (CSE) and the Student Farm are in the process of deciding on a location for the hoop house. Possible sites include the Whitehouse Nature Center (WNC) and a hilltop on the current student farm.
“The point of purchasing a hoop house is to extend the growing season to the later fall and spring and to use it as an education tool for sustainability,” said Kaitlyn Pospiech, Grand Rapids junior and Student Farm president.
The construction for the hoop house seems to be the most difficult part of the whole process for CSE and the Student Farm. It’s location, distance from campus, cost, and practicality are all major factors.
“We’ve looked at a long list of pros and cons,” said Doug White, the Associate Director of the CSE. “In the back of the Nature Center site there is an old garage there with electric service already in place and there is a pump. A potential advantage is existing infrastructure for electricity, water, and storage.”
Using the current farm seems to be more ideal because it is accessible for students, however, high costs may be involved.
“The hilltop at the student farm doesn’t have any services, so we might have to drill a well or contract for city water and electricity installment,” White said.
The possibility of this hoop house came from when Jessie Baird, ‘11 alumni, wrote an interdisciplinary thesis on student farming and sustainability. This prompted her father, Richard Baird, a Board of Trustees member, to donate $10,000. Although generous, the monetary gift may not be enough to fund the entire project.
“We’re looking at a couple of different places [for grants],” Cody Yothers, Harbor Springs, and junior said. “Some of it is federal from the FDA and also from institutions like the Kellogg Center. There are also lots of programs right now that involve hoop houses and sustainability through the state of Michigan.”
Members of the CSE and Student Farm are hoping to have the spot chosen by December so construction can begin in early spring.
“This will benefit Albion College’s campus by allowing us to continue growing food to provide to campus, professors can use it as a learning tool, and [it can be] an education tool for the community,” Pospiech said.