VISTA Stories: Jenna Sanderson: MNIC Hoop Houses

October 15, 2010

Though only four months into my service, my VISTA year has already surprised me with unique and exciting projects!  During my first couple weeks as a VISTA at the Minnesota Internship Center (MNIC), I kept hearing about a school garden that students and staff planted in South Minneapolis.  While the school garden started as a small and simple project with the limited number of summer school students, early on staff began thinking of ways to extend the project into the fall.  My site supervisor, with a personal passion for urban agriculture, suggested building a “hoop house” over the school garden.  Constructed with PVC pipes and thick plastic sheets, a hoop house captures the warmth of the sun and protects crops from harsh winter weather.  This hoop house environment allows crops to grow into the fall and winter months despite the arctic Minnesota climate.

The teachers at the MNIC site in South Minneapolis thought that assembling a hoop house over the school garden would serve as an excellent hands-on project for the environmental science course during the fall.  With the teachers on-board with the hoop house, we began to write grants to purchase the materials necessary for construction. When the HandsOn – Twin Cities Youth Advisory Board awarded MNIC a grant for the project, urban agriculture at MNIC really began to take on a life of its own.  The environmental science class not only tackled the hoop house project with the expertise of a local non-profit called YEA Corps, but additionally started worm composting with the assistance of Ellen Sandbeck from LaVerme’s Worms.  These agriculture projects within the school have been very exciting as they bring nutritious, local and affordable produce into MNIC’s classrooms, cafeteria and community!

Posted By: Jennifer Sanderson, VISTA


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