Unity Farm, Charlotte, Vermont
Hoop house grown what's a hoop house?
Hoop houses are basically structures of either wood or metal covered in clear plastic. Unlike greenhouses, hoop houses do not have heat or electricity. Our hoop houses are 30' wide and between 138' and 154' long. Hoop houses of that size are called "High Tunnels" because you can walk upright in them and even bring in tractors and other equipment. Hoop houses come in all sizes - those that are 2 to 3' high are called "Low Tunnels".

Hoop houses are used to extend the growing season of plants, which we need to do here in Vermont! When the temperatures outside become too cold for plants to grow, we can continue to grow some cold-hardy plants in the high tunnel. Since they are not heated, we rely on the sun to warm up the inside during the day, and we cover up the crops at night to keep the plants from freezing. The amount of heat generated by the sun on the plastic on a freezing cold January day is surprising. It can be well below zero with snow outside yet over 60 degrees inside the hoop house depending on how strongly the sun is shining! In our climate, we can continue to grow lettuce, spinach, kale, collard greens, chard, asian and mustard greens, cilantro, parsley, and other crops. The other important factor effecting our crops in winter is how much daylight they get. There are a few weeks in January and February when the plants just sit there and don’t grow. We call this period the weeks of Persephone. As the sun angle gets higher and the daylight hours get longer towards the end of February, the plants start growing again.