Hoophouses bring warmth to spring

By: Sarah Cormier, Macomb County Executive Office

It’s hard to think that after such a harsh winter in Michigan that any sort of plant could have survived. Yet, as the ground begins to thaw, signs of spring are beginning to pop up. Local markets and farms are starting to open and resume selling their seasonal crops. But how do these local agricultural workers keep their crop from being completely ruined after such a tough winter?

The answer for many is the use of hoophouses, or as Mary Gerstenberger, consumer horticulture coordinator from Macomb County’s Michigan State University Extension calls them, “mini greenhouses.” According to Gerstenberger, the hoophouses are installed and used during two main growing seasons, spring and fall. They are used in the spring if the season is slow to warm up, like this year. They are also used in the fall if winter arrives sooner than expected.

“They are used to extend the growing season,” said Gerstenberger, adding that the hoophouses can also enable farmers to work on crops during the entire year.

“They do make it nice for working outside,” she said. “On a cold day, when the sun is out, it really helps.”

Gerstenberger said hoophouses used to be located only on farms, but they are increasing in popularity with homeowners who have the property to support the structure.

“It is becoming a larger part of the growing scene both commercially and for backyard growers,” she said.

According to the Michigan Department of Agriculture, Macomb County is home to 475 total farms covering 61,994 acres of land. The area of greenhouse/nursery operations covers 2,207,534 square feet. With these numbers, it is no surprise that Macomb County is number six in the state in revenue that comes from nursery, greenhouse, floriculture and sod.

“Most of the first vegetables harvested in Macomb are started in hoophouses (greenhouses) and then transplanted out for an early start and early sales to benefit the consumer,” said Ken DeCock, owner of Boyka’s Farm Market.

DeCock said his market will be open on May 1. The Mount Clemens Farmers Market is holding its grand opening for the season on May 3.

“Many of the greenhouse operations in Macomb County … have many varieties of flowers and arrangements for you to choose from. With Easter being later, spring planting and hanging baskets season will be coming soon. Also, remember that Mother’s Day is the second Sunday in May.”

For more information on hoophouses, visit www.hoophouse.msu.edu. For more information on items offered at Boyka’s Farm Market, visit www.boykasfarmmarket.com. For more information on the Mount Clemens Farmers Market opening, visit www.mountclemensfarmersmarket.com.

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