Hoop House Installed in Madison County, AL
Mr. Turner's hoop house before planting.
By Joyce Lane, Soil Conservationist, NRCS, Huntsville, AL
After being an Alabama A&M University Professor for 32 years, J.B. Turner did not know just how hard he’d have to work after retiring. He has to keep-up his Registered Angus herd and to raise fruits and vegetables for his customers at the local Farmers Market.
Mr. Turner began growing fruits and vegetables in 1980. In the beginning, he allowed the patrons to pick their own; however, many did not like that option. Mr. Turner realized that he had to use another method if he was going to be successful. He needed to grow more items to be sold at the local Farmer’s Market and he needed a better way to raise them.
Mr. Turner started thinking about the advantages of a Seasonal High Tunnel, or hoop house.
After many workshops, many hours of studying different designs, and phone calls and conversations with manufacturers of hoop houses, Mr. Turner began the lay out for his first house in the fall of 2010.
Mr. Turner's hoop house structure is 72 feet long and 30 feet wide. Mr. Turner anticipates that his hoop house will allow him to start producing crops earlier and carry production later in the season than traditional methods.
Mr. Turner said that this structure will definitely enhance his business. He planted turnip greens in the fall. He emphasized that tomatoes, peppers, and some strawberries will likely be the main crops grown in the hoop house.
Mr. Turner said that when extra hands are needed, Barbara, his wife gladly pitches in to ensure that things continue to run smooth. He chuckled as he reminisced about his daughter. When growing up she enjoyed all aspects of farming, but now that he is retired and needed help, Jennifer has grown up. The producer said that he sure does miss having her around.
Alabama Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is offering a pilot program through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for Limited Resource, New and Beginning, and Socially Disadvantaged Farmers to install Seasonal High Tunnels or hoop houses.
A New and Beginning Farmer is an individual or entity who has not operated a farm or ranch, or who has operated a farm or ranch for not more than 10 consecutive years. Individuals are not eligible for EQIP until they have completed the Farm Bill eligibility requirements.
To see if you qualify for this or other NRCS programs, contact your local NRCS office listed in the telephone book under U.S. Department of Agriculture or online at http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov.
Hoop houses can help extend the growing season.