Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Hoop Hoop Hooray

"Let's go let's go down to junior's farm, Take me down to David's farm, ev'rybody tag along"

Though this site is specific to Gravity Hill Organic Farm, and Farmer David, it is important to be clear on what it is that David is doing and why he is doing it. So, while there will continue to be pictures and information specific to Gravity Hill and David, this site will also be used to provide some background information about organic food, farming, and something called the Slow Food movement. The simplest place to start is with a definition: The term 'organic foods' refers to the methods used to produce the foods rather than to characteristics of the food themselves. The most common concept of 'organically grown' food was articulated in 1972 by Robert Rodale, editor of Organic Gardening and Farming magazine, at a public hearing: "Food grown without pesticides; grown without artificial fertilizers; grown in soil whose humus is increased by the additions of organic matter, grown in soil whose mineral content is increased by the application of natural mineral fertilizers; has not been treated with preservatives, hormones, antibiotics, etc." To be fair, it should be noted that there is some controversy about what constitutes organic foods and the way in which the federal government accredits farms. I'm not going to get into this issue. If interested about this, go to your favorite search engine.

Regardless of the politics and debates about what is or is not organic, Gravity Hill is in the process of being certified as an organic farm. When all is said and done, Gravity Hill Farm will provide fresh produce within the local community. Fresh produce tastes better and, in the absence of chemicals and pesticides, is better for the land and the consumer. Plus, by buying local produce at local farmer's markets, you are supporting your local farmer and the local economy. And finally, it is MARKET TIME!!! The Lawrenceville Farmers Market starts Sunday, June 10th from 9am-1pm. Come to Lawrenceville on Route 206 and turn on Gordon Ave; it is the traffic light in the middle of town. See you there.

Now, onto the farm. What people may not realize is the tremendous importance of a heated green house. Without one, a farmer can't get their seeds germinating in a timely manner. This makes it hard to grow crops to sell at market. (Not a good thing when your income is based on what you grow and sell.) As the result of a variety of circumstances, David was delayed in getting his green house (or hoop house if you prefer) erected. This put him behind in his seeding and growing. Much thanks to Farmer Matt at Cherry Grove Organic Farm for the use of his green house as well as for providing David with some of his extra seedlings. Cherry Grove is where David worked for the past three years, living in an extra hoop house that Matt had on his farm. Compare the general structure of the hoop house that you'll see in the following pictures and the pictures of the apartment from the first post. A definite step up. What follows are a series of pictures showing the building of the first green house at Gravity Hill Farm. Hoop, hoop hooray.

Getting the posts level prior to placing the hoops into the posts was a never ending task. The fact that the land wasn't leveled properly did not help matters. A bolt connects the wood, post, and hoop to provide stability to the entire structure.

A view from the deck gives good perspective. In addition to the wood at the base of the structure, notice the wood at the bend of the hoop. In addition to providing additional stability to the green house, the wood will also be used in another function; described later on.

Hmm? I could have sworn that there was supposed to be a bolt going through here? Oops!

A boy and his dog enjoy a quiet moment of relaxation.

What you can see at the back of the structure is the beginning of the back wall. In the front left corner are electrical outlets.

The construction of the walls continues.

With the walls complete, a double layer of plastic was placed over the hoops. Help was provided by Farmer Matt, one of his interns and a field hand, David Earling (the owner of the farm), and Patrick (a friend of David E.). Thanks

You can see the wood at the bend of the hoop. It holds the plastic to the wood that you saw earlier. What David is doing is rolling up the plastic that is hanging below the wood. Depending on the weather, this plastic, which is attached to a metal pole by plastic clips, allows David to have some control over the temperature in the green house.

This is what the green house looks like when the sides are rolled up.

Finishing touches include a nice paint job. On the front right is a vent that automatically opens when the fan, which is mounted in the back goes on. There is also a heating unit mounted on the back wall. This allows David to keep the green house warm at night so that the growing seedlings are happy in their warm home.

The heating unit and fan are propane powered. The fan is in the middle of the structure. The heating unit is mounted inside this back wall.

For now we will fade into the mist. Happy, healthy eating and peace and well being to all.

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