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A New Class

October 20, 2009
This is the hoop house for the Autumn Food Growing class

This is the hoop house for the Autumn Food Growing class

I sometimes wonder how things would be different if I had studied agriculture in college in some form. I have no plans to go back to school full time, but I have so much that I want to learn, that I am always on the look out for an interesting class or workshop.

Last year, I took a five week class on fruit trees and workshops on irrigation, soil building and fruit tree grafting. A few weeks ago, I started a class called Autumn Food Growing at Clackamas Community College, an “11 week class [that] utilizes a hands-on approach to organic methods of growing cool season food plants, using a hoop-house, through the study of soil ecosystems, variety selection, pest management, data collection, harvest, and storage.” I hope to learn how to use our hoop houses to their maximum potential.

Preparing eight beds inside the hoop house

Preparing eight beds inside the hoop house

The hoop house we are working with is big: about 20′ wide by 96′ long. Four of our hoop houses could easily fit inside. At the first class, we put the plastic up over the frame. Somehow, even though I don’t enjoy being on the high end of a ladder, that is precisely where I climbed: to the top of an orchard ladder, ready to pull the plastic up over the top of the structure. Three or four of us were spread out over the 96 foot length. I happened  to be in the middle, the only one positioned under the peak of the frame. The other three got the plastic up to a point where I could grab a handful. Then they let go, getting down to reposition their ladders, so we all could pull the plastic over the top. As they climbed down, that left me holding the plastic up when a gust of wind hit. I tried to hold on, to both the plastic and the hoop house. I tried not get pulled off by the big plastic parachute, but it was no good. With the instructor yelling, “Hold on!” the plastic slipped out of my hand. Ten minutes, a better grip on the plastic, and no wind gusts later, we got the plastic over the hoop house.

The bed I will be working on

The bed I will be working on

Since then, we have been preparing the beds for planting, which could happen this week.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. nathan permalink
    February 25, 2010 2:31 pm

    I really like the design of your hoop house. Where did you purchase it?

  2. jcgarden permalink
    February 25, 2010 10:02 pm

    The instructor for the class gave us a list of all the parts and where they came from, about 7+ different sources. Some of the frame was donated, which prompted building the whole thing. The rest of the steel frame was purchased from Oregon Valley Greenhouses ( in Aurora. (I bought my own small hoop houses 9’4” x 40′ from them, as well.) The plastic, polycarb for the end walls and some other parts from Oregon Bag Company. Other parts came from places like Home Depot and Wilco Farm Store.

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