Community helps young farmer rebuild greenhouse

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ASHLAND, WI– This winter’s heavy snow wreaked havoc on a young Ashland farmer’s vegetable greenhouse.

“The farmer response has been sort of a punch to the gut to our farm community when something bad like this happens,” said Chris Duke with Bayfield Foods.

Last winter did some serious damage to Brian Clements vegetable farm in Ashland.

“I came out in the morning and the whole hoop house had collapsed in the snow,” he said.

The 30×168 foot greenhouse was only partially damaged, but repairs won’t come cheap.

“A brand new one with labor is probably costing about $20,000, so to lose something like that is a big loss,” said Clements.

Nifty Hoops out of Ann Arbor, Michigan is taking the lead on the project.

But to Clements’ surprise, the community also stepped up Wednesday to lend a muddy hand.

“The food producers program I belong to, Bayfield Foods, probably half of them are out here today giving me a hand with the rebuild. I super appreciate that,” said Clements.

“It’s really great when we can have an opportunity to come out and help each other out just to kind of smooth things over. We’re all fighting the weather, so we can work together to do it,” said Duke.

Wednesday they’ll build the bows, which is the main part that forms the frame of the greenhouse.

“As we’ve worked and kind of grown together it’s not just helping each other market our products, it’s helping each other on our farms,” said Duke.

Clements is confident that next winter won’t be the same.

“I’m gonna remove the snow over the winter so not only does it come off the hoop house, but I’m gonna push it to a whole other location so that will help with snow blowing to the greenhouse. I’m going to put up snow fencing to help with drifting. And, I’m actually building another smaller building on the side of it, which should help block some of the heavier snows,” he said.

To make sure no more crops get left behind.

“I appreciate all the work that everyone’s done to help me get back going this year,” said Clements.

In the next couple of days, Clements will plant tomatoes and cucumbers, he said those should be ready in late July.

CeCe Gaines

CeCe Gaines

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