Intervale hoop house gets green light

BURLINGTON In the case of Burlingtons Intervale Center, a proposed giant hoop house wont be a place for neighborhood kids to play basketball. Instead, the Intervale structure will help start-up farmers get a jump start on the growing season at both ends. The Vermont Agency of Agriculture released its decision to allow the construction of the so-called hoop house greenhouse at the Intervale Center and Half Pint Farm. Working closely with FEMA, the Intervale Center, the farmer, ANR and the City of Burlington, guidelines for hoop house construction will ensure that the availability of flood insurance to city residents is not jeopardized. The planned hoop house will cover half an acre of landnearly the size of a football field. The land on which the 300-foot long and 75-foot wide hoop house will be erected is in the citys floodway so extra caution is being taken by the parties involved. The Agency of Agriculture received the farms petition in February with a request for resolution before April 24. In response, the agency conducted an investigation and worked with stakeholders to reach a decision that would help the Intervale farmer expand his business while complying with agency guidelines. The Interval Center is a farm incubator program that offers would be farmers access to land, equipment and training. Its mission is to incubate sustainable businesses in farming, and value-added food, fiber and fuel production, with a focus on economic development and environmental solutions for communities worldwide. Regarding the Intervale hoop house, unheated PVC structures have been a popular addition to area farms and gardens for more than a decade. Hoop structures serve several key roles on a farm: they eliminate frost and dew from plants, they keep heavy rain off bedding plants, they block drying winds, and they raise daytime interior temperatures more than 10 degrees to extend warm-season gardening by one month or more at both ends. Thus, economical gardening can be maintained in all seasons. Hoop houses, which are less costly than more permanent greenhouse structures, enable gardeners to grow plants 365 days a year. The structures can also be disassembled or relocated cheaply.

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