Hobson City - Expanding Conservation Technologies to Urban Communities
Field day group tours the Hoop House at the Hobson City Community Garden.
By Alice Love, Natural Resource Specialist, NRCS, Auburn, AL
Local officials, community residents, business, and conservation partners continue to introduce conservation technologies, knowledge, and awareness to the urban communities through community outreach activities.
Hobson City, Alabama, successfully implemented a community garden through the use of micro-irrigation in 2011. Over 1,500 pounds of fresh produce such as tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, corn, okra, various peppers, pinkeye peas, and snap beans were grown. The harvest was distributed throughout the city to the elderly and sold to secure funding for future crops.
In 2012, the city expanded their conservation enhancements through the use of a High Seasonal Tunnel (hoop house). This structure is specifically designed for producers with limited acreage and a desire to expand their growing season while improving plant and soil quality. Instead of using a commercially manufactured structure kit, the city agreed to be a demonstration site using a hoop house design of Mr. Victor Khan, Plant Breeder with Tuskegee University.
Hobson City’s structure’s dimensions are 28 feet wide, 80 feet long, and 6 feet high. The construction cost, not including labor, was about $1,600. Mr. Victor was instrumental in the overall construction.
Mr. Victor is motivated to continue the work of his mentor, Dr. Booker Tillman Whatley, who is best known for his small farm philosophy that a farmer with 25 acres can gross $100, 000 per year following a sound farm plan. Mr. Victor promotes Dr. Whatley’s 1970 study of the hoop house through advance technologies. Hobson City is the first demonstration site for Mr. Victor’s design outside of the Tuskegee University research sites.
During a recent field day at Hobson City, Mr. Victor shared his research results about hoop houses with attendees. He highlighted some hoop house advantages and recommendations:
ability to control weather affects on plants
ability to obtain greenhouse affects through natural means
crops that are easily adoptable to hoop-house
consider direction of hoop house construction to withstand various weather conditions (storms, sunlight, etc). In east/central Alabama, structure length is recommended to be oriented in a north/south direction.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Alabama was one of 38 states selected to participate in an interim pilot program for the construction of hoop houses in 2009 through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). One of the major criteria’s of this pilot program is that producers must install a manufactured High Seasonal Tunnel (hoop house) kit to meet EQIP standards.
For more information on High Seasonal Tunnels, micro-irrigation systems, and other conservation practices, contact your local NRCS Field Office or visit the website at www.al.nrcs.usda.gov.
Typical harvest at Hobson City Community Garden.
Planting tomatoes in hoop house.