Preparations for the High Tunnel Workshop

Oklahomans,
as so many others,
are a tenacious lot.
Last summer’s drought
and devastating heat
proved to many
that summer gardening will increasingly
become difficult, or impossible.
Already, gardeners we know
are adapting new methods.
One, is to grow fruits and vegetables
under the protection of covered tunnels,
called “hoop houses”
or “high tunnels”
(depending on, well, the height.)
In summer,
when it’s too hot for photosynthesis,
the structure is covered with shade cloth.
In the winter,
it’s covered with plastic.
Vegetables can be grown
almost year-round.

On May 15,
Steve Upson from the Noble Foundation
will be here at Turtle Rock Farm
to hold a workshop on building, maintaining
and growing in a high tunnel.
Already, there has been much preparation.
Two borrowed pigs
have rooted up most of the weeds and grass
at the location of the high tunnel.
Friends Randy and Scott
have cemented in the base of the ribs.
On May 15,
we’ll raise the rest of it.
We invite you to join us—
to help out
and to learn. It’s free.
Lunch is provided.
Let us know you’re coming.
Call 580.725.3411
or email annmcferron@hotmail.com.

Ernest Callenbach,
author of Ecotopia,
died a couple of weeks ago
and left an unpublished article
in his computer.
He writes that while it’s obvious
that the world is in crisis
at many levels,
it’s also obvious
that humans are capable
of making changes
that will sustain life.
I think the idea of gardening
year round
in Oklahoma
under hoop houses
is one example
of what Callenbach points to
in his final article,
“Epistle to the Ecotopians”:

We may even have begun to share an understanding that while the dark times may continue for generations, in time new growth and regeneration will begin. In the biological process called “succession,” a desolate, disturbed area is gradually, by a predictable sequence of returning plants, restored to ecological continuity and durability. When old institutions and habits break down or consume themselves, new experimental shoots begin to appear, and people explore and test and share new and better ways to survive together.

It is never easy or simple. But already we see, under the crumbling surface of the conventional world, promising developments: new ways of organizing economic activity (cooperatives, worker-owned companies, nonprofits, trusts), new ways of using low-impact technology to capture solar energy, to sequester carbon dioxide, new ways of building compact, congenial cities that are low (or even self-sufficient) in energy use, low in waste production, high in recycling of almost everything. A vision of sustainability that sometimes shockingly resembles Ecotopia is tremulously coming into existence at the hands of people who never heard of the book.