A growing trend
Perry explains that running a hoop house doesn’t necessarily mean you cut down on your carbon footprint, but there are certainly ways to cultivate this kind of passion while being environmentally conscious. At the end of the day, projects like the ones being run at Sabatia and at Dewey Gardens support the local community in areas ranging from health to economics.
The increased availability of in-demand crops during their normal off-seasons not only means more variety in food and flowers year round but also lower prices. “Growing my own bedding plants means that I shop in my own greenhouse every morning,” Perry explains. Cheaper prices for both farmers and consumers means that a stimulated economy can be added to the list of reasons hoop houses are valuable to the Cape and Islands.
The benefits associated with hoop houses are enormous, for both your own health and enjoyment as well as that of the surrounding environment, but jumping into the world of sustainable farming might seem like a daunting task best left to the professionals. Luckily enough, creating your own hoop house is easily within reach for any homeowner, and the women of Dewey Gardens and Sabatia Flower Farm are blazing a path and offering some advice to eager Cape Cod farmers.
“With a little bit of room, you can produce an incredible amount of food,” says Dewey. “Still, it’s trial and error. There’s this whole mystique about having a green thumb, but it’s more about learning what works for you and what thrives best in your particular landscape.”
The conditions on the Cape can be challenging, so “It’s crucial that you have the right location,” explains Perry. “Cape Cod is very wooded, so you need to have an appropriate location with full sun and a source of water.”
Perry also advises researching the best hoop house structure to suit your needs, as there are many options. “At Sabatia, we have two different kinds of structures,” she says. “Some of our greenhouses have just a plastic cover that gets replaced every five to seven years, and some of the greenhouses have a polycarbonate covering, which is a hard, plastic double layer that’s more permanent and has better insulation.”
Choosing the right structure and location depends on what you plan to grow and what your long-term goals are. It’s about finding what’s right for you and what will help you be the most successful with your hoop house.
“If you’re interested in growing your own food and controlling the content and health of that food inexpensively, you can do that on your own time and on your own land,” says Dewey. “And if you want to do what you can to make the planet a healthier place, that’s the reason you should build a hoop house.”
For dedicated farmers like Dewey and Perry, taking care of their crops is a task that never gets old. Dewey shares a sublime quote that captures the passion these women bring to their practice. “It’s just like Thomas Jefferson says,” she quotes: “Though I am an old man, I am but a young gardener.”
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