Saturday, November 26, 2011

Hoop house build!

On Sunday November 2oth, we built a small hoop house in the yard of the Ginsberg Center! It was a fun workday and it only took us about two hours to build.

All photos on this post by: Nate Ayers

A few days later, the wind and rain took a toll on the hoop house, so we had to temporarily remove the plastic. We will be having a workday after Thanksgiving break to re-fit the plastic with the correct pvc clamps, so our hoop will be sturdy and snow-proof all winter long!

Hoop houses are like green houses, but made out of clear plastic and pvc or metal piping. They are cheaper and easier to move than traditional glass greenhouses, but still use the sun's energy to create a warm, humid environment. Hoop houses are great for places like Michigan, because they lengthen the growing season; we are hoping to grow lettuce, spinach, and other veggies all winter long! We put two of our rain barrels in the hoop house which will act as thermal reservoirs: heating up on sunny days and keeping the heat in the house through the chilly nights.

A huge thanks to the volunteers who came out, the Ginsberg Center for their cooperation, and especially to the hard work of Lauren for organizing the project and gathering the materials!!

Also a gigantic thanks to Nate Ayers, a local permaculturalist, who provided the hoops and helped us build the hoop house!! Check out Nate's company: Chiwara Permaculture. Nate also provided all of the photos for this post.

Step 1: Build wooden frame, dig holes for hoop bases

Step 2: bury the pvc hoop bases, attach hoops, cut the plastic

Step 3: secure hoops with a cross-beam

Step 4: stretch plastic over hoops

Step 5: secure plastic and install nifty plastic zipper-door

Step 6: Celebrate!

Next steps: we will ready the soil for planting, add compost to the soil from our compost bins, plant seeds, figure out a rain barrel watering system, and experiment with different vegetables.

Now that we have a hoop house, we will have outdoor garden work to do all winter long! If you are interested in helping out with the hoop house or participating in our indoor winter workdays and workshops please email us at

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Ginsberg Garden Time Lapse Video!

Watch the garden grow!

Throughout the season, I took photos of the garden from the porch of the Ginsberg Center. The video starts on May 11 and ends on November 21.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Cultivating Community Summer and Fall 2011

Now that Mother Nature is settling in for winter hibernation in Michigan, we have some time to enjoy the harvest, eat lots of food, cuddle by fireplaces, and look back on the season.

Here is a taste of how we worked to cultivate community this past summer and fall:

Ginsberg Garden Workdays, thanks to everyone who volunteered!!!

Harvesting potatoes, planting garlic, cleaning up the garden, jumping on the compost to compress it

Giant cabbage

Yum! Kale (top right) was our winning producer this summer!


We were able to share our harvests with others in the Ann Arbor community by donating produce to Food Gatherers, which is an organization that rescues food, cooks meals, and provides tons (literally tons) of food to those in need.

Focused Hands Garden, Detroit!

During the summer, we ran a weekly gardening activity for kids, where they learned how to care for their garden and how to make snacks from the food grown in the garden.

Detroit Urban Ag Tour!

Catherine Ferguson Academy, a school for teenage mothers, has a farm and a horse in the middle of the city.

Green Things Farm!

We helped harvest onions at Green Things Farm which is part of the Tilian Farm Development Center, a farmer-incubator program close to Ann Arbor.

Pickling Workshop!
Using cucumbers, dill, jalapeƱos, onions, and spices from the garden!

Late Summer Blueberry Picking!

Fall Raspberry Picking!

Almost-Halloween Apple Picking!

Pepper Preservation Workshop!

To preserve our bounty of jalapeƱos, we tied them up to dry.

Sunseed Farm Volunteer Day!

We helped harvest winter-storage crops, beets, carrots, and rutabagas, at the beautiful Sunseed farm.

We are thankful for all of the food and fun times we enjoyed with Cultivating Community this season, and look forward to an equally awesome winter!
Our giant pumpkin jack-o-lantern says, "Happy fall!"

We think that the giant pumpkin was actually a hybrid giant pumpkin X winter squash due to its curvy shape and stripes.