Hoop house grant program for Detroit and Wayne County

The Wayne County Local Food Initiative through the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service has $150,000 for the construction of seasonal high tunnels for eligible applicants.

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service has made $150,000 available to qualified applicants for the construction of seasonal high tunnels (also known as hoop houses) in Detroit and Wayne County. This program is called the Wayne County Local Food Initiative.

Seasonal high tunnels or hoop houses are typically constructed of large half hoops of metal tubing overlaid with plastic. The purpose of a hoop house is to extend the growing season for fruits and vegetables. The additional heat held in by the plastic hoop house allows growers to start their crops earlier and also grow them longer into the fall. This extension of the growing season makes fresh produce available for longer periods, thereby making it more accessible. And accessibility to fresh food is at a premium in many areas of Wayne County and Detroit.

There are many benefits to hoop houses; they are relatively simple to construct and maintain, and can fit easily into urban areas. They also help protect the soil from erosion by wind and rain. They can also be a good start for new farmers as they help them into new market niches due to the availability of produce at different times of the season. More information about hoop houses is available from your local Michigan State University Extension office.

The deadline to apply for the program is March 21, 2014, and applicants must supply farm records previous to this date with the USDA Farm Service Agency. Qualified applicants receive reimbursement after construction is completed. More information about the Wayne County Local Food Initiative is available in the news release, or by contacting the Natural Resources Conservation Service office at 734-761-8789 x3.

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