Posts Tagged ‘Ohio’

The United States Government thinks we’re cool!

I’m serious! We have just been selected as one of the recipients in Ohio to receive a grant, funded by the USDA National Resources Conservation Service, to build a 2,100 sq ft hoop house (or high tunnel)!! Woohoo! I just received the final contract today!

For those of you who aren’t hip to the farming lingo (don’t worry, until 12 months ago, I was in the dark…) a hoop house, a.k.a., high tunnel is a temporary structure made from PVC pipes, or metal, in a hoop shape, and covered in plastic. They come in all different sizes. High tunnels are not greenhouses. There’s no electrical, plumbing, cement, etc. It’s just a barrier, heated by the sun, protecting a particular area of the farm. Simply put, it’s a big piece of plastic protecting our plants from unwanted elements. Here’s an example:


So, what does this mean for us?

First, it means I am so excited that I won’t sleep tonight.

Second, it means we have to find an awesome (preferably local) company to buy a high tunnel, within our budget–and then construct it.

But most importantly, it means that we will harvest cold hardy vegetables like lettuces, spinach, carrots, kale, swiss chard, etc. etc. etc., well past the time we would have normally lost them to frost. AND they’ll most likely over-winter, so at the first sign of spring, they’ll start growing again! We’ll also be able to grow heat loving crops inside, when normally it would still be too cold in the unprotected environment. Isn’t that AWESOME?! No more dry spells of having to buy crappy grocery store veggies! WOOHOO!

But there’s a catch…

We live in the ‘burbs. Although, our city code specifically states we are zoned for agriculture and truck farming, we have thrown our city planners for a loop. When we inquired about a permit, things started to get a little hairy. Mostly because even though homesteading, local food, and urban farming is old hat to us, and likely you, dear reader, it’s still quite a new idea to most.

I was concerned at the tone of some of the communications we’ve had up until this point. It felt very much that instead of supporting us, the city was searching for reasons to shut us down, which didn’t make sense, since we are zoned for farming. But after a short conversation with a representative from the city today, it seems its not so much the farming part they’re worried about, it’s the commercial traffic our farm might bring into our residential area. I can respect that as a valid concern. Luckily for us, 99.9% of our business is conducted away from our home (i.e. deliveries, and farmer’s markets next year). Even the CSA is in the clear, because we plan to set up a pick-up site at some places like Whole Foods next season.

But, to actually put up a high tunnel, we are going to have to submit a variance request, and be required to face the planning commission on August 14th. I’m not sure what to expect. I know the planning director is discussing our situation with the Law director, which is of uncertain significance. We’ve already talked to the neighbors, who are supportive of our plans, so we aren’t worried about complaints.

I’m a little disheartened that even though we’re zoned for agriculture, we’re recognized by the state of Ohio as a farm, and we’ve gone through the rigorous process of completing the government application, attending meetings, and having a site visit by the federal government–only to face the prospect that our city council will shoot us down.

BUT! I am confident that the respectable folks of our city council and planning committee will see the value in what we are doing, and see the positive impact it will have on our family, neighborhood and city.

Who knows, maybe we’ll be providing their supper someday.


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