ALPENA - The Alpena Farmers Market and Alpena Community College are collaborating to start a new community greenhouse program. Farmers market President James Cook and facilities director Bob Plume have secured a grant of almost $5,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to build the high tunnel greenhouse near the current greenhouse used by the garden club on the ACC campus.
"High tunnel greenhouses are enclosed and retain heat from the ground," Plume said. "This extends the growing season by around two or three months, which creates a lot of possibilities."
This new greenhouse will work for certain zone five crops and is unique because the plants are grown from the ground up inside of the greenhouse with the use of good topsoil.
"The greenhouse is not heated," Cook said. "Some of the plants grown can withstand the colder temperatures."
This new program will help support the development of the grow local, buy local, consume local movement in Alpena by teaching how to grow extended season crops and help to foster a healthier town.
"We want to show people how to produce fruits and vegetables in the greenhouse," Cook said. "Different groups will have different areas to grow their produce. We're trying to get everyone together and make the greenhouse more for the community."
The farmers market will be using the greenhouse for growing crops and produce and ACC will grow some of the plant life used to decorate the campus.
Anyone in the community interested in learning how to build a greenhouse, grow specialty extended season high tunnel produce, and in the marketing of produce is welcome to attend an organizational meeting for the greenhouse on Thursday at 6 p.m. in the APlex downstairs conference room.
Construction on the new high tunnel greenhouse will begin sometime within the next month and will be discussed in more depth at the meeting. The construction will be a learning experience for those involved, and Cook hopes it will inspire more interest in these high tunnel style greenhouses around the area.
Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.