The Hoop House Project


Growing Winter Greens without heat in Maine by use of a portable greenhouse and a worm farm

This project was made possible by the Interface Corporation
"We will honor the places where we do business by endeavoring to become the first name in industrial ecology,
a corporation that cherishes nature and restores the environment."



Our middle school students have taken the garden project to places we didn’t think possible, from becoming some of the top ribbon winners at the Common Ground Fair to bringing fresh produce they’ve chosen to grow into our cafeteria, the local soup kitchen and markets and most importantly into their own homes.  

Many of our winter growing techniques are accomplished inside a state of the art greenhouse with an artificial heat source.  This set-up is not practical or affordable for most homeowners and many farmers.  Our dream was to build on current hoop house technology to develop a model, functioning hoop house that will be geared towards Maine winters.  Our belief is that this model hoop house would be able to house enough solar heat to grow greens from October into summer without any artificial heat source.  In other words we would heat our hoop house for free. 

Our students tested this hypothesis last year by designing and building a hoop house in our garden.  They conducted all of the research regarding the design, material cost and building requirements.  The math, science, Language Arts, Industrial Arts and Economics teachers each took a part in this process connecting a lesson involving the hoop house with the Maine Learning Results.  The following pictures detail the steps we took to complete our second hoophouse in the THMS Garden.

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Students lay out placement of the Hoop House after tilling up the cover drop of oats
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Organic compost is added to the area
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Compost trench around older hoop house is filled before continuing
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Measuring the height of the arch
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Making base by nailing together 2 by 6's then drilling 2" holes for base.  Short pipe is pounded in to hold frame
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Adding bolts for ridge pole
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Assembling more hoops
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Students measure pipe against template to keeep things exact
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Measure twice, cut once
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Just a practice cut with no power
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Safety googles on before making cut.  Use of speed square to keep line true
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Lunch break in the greenhouse
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Insert hoops into sleve
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They fit! Now for the end walls
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Threading more bolts for ridge pole
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This is bigger than we thought
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Remove all burrs from holes
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Tighten ridge pole under hoop with carraige bolt through top
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  Ready for the final hoop.  Looks like a perfect fit
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Now it's time for teamwork
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This hoop house is designed to be moved around the garden but better have your Wheaties first
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Students measure the diagonal for square
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Moving three inches to the right gives us perfect square
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Now we level the front and back.  Next, measure for your wall joists.  Don't forget the door.
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Make groove for the wood to fit the pipe by making many cuts, then chisel
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Mr. Thurston holds board for hand cutting of strapping
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Okay, let's move it again just for the exercise
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Double check for square after leveling
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Now we're ready to nail
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Mr. Widmer leads in the clean-up effort


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