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Posted on Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Ann Arbor hoop house company wants to grow more small farms in Washtenaw County

By Janet Miller


Hoop house

Janet Miller | For

Jeff McCabe wants to help change the feast-or-famine nature of farming in cold weather climates such as Michigan.

As founder of Ann Arbor-based Nifty Hoops, he wants to spread the harvest into winter, allowing small farmers to increase profits and offering a carrot to encourage small, often organic, local farms.

“It’s about creating a viable food system,” McCabe said.

For the past year, McCabe has manufactured and installed hoop houses under the Nifty Hoops name.

These passive solar greenhouses, which can range from 300 to 6,000 square feet, have been sold to farmers and organizations in Washtenaw County and beyond.

McCabe is now thinking of expanding the business using a franchise model into other cold climate markets such as Madison, Wisc., and Burlington, Vermont.

Nifty Hoops creates a new way to build hoop houses. Until now, kits could be ordered, leaving farmers to wrestle with assembly, McCabe said. There weren’t instructions, especially for the end walls, and the tubing wasn’t pre-cut.

“They give you a pile of steel and let you figure it out. You have to do your own engineering,” McCabe said.

Assembly can take days, and there is one area one farmer who spent a month on the project, McCabe said.

Nifty Hoops includes materials and labor and, like a barn raising from an earlier era, they are constructed over the course of a single day. A farmer or volunteers can assist in the hoop house raising to reduce costs, but McCabe and his team direct the work.

While McCabe is a one-person company, he has a roster of about 20 available to work construction. About 12 workers are needed for any given hoop house raising.

Using his construction and engineering background, McCabe reduced materials costs, in part, by substituting polyethylene sheets in place of more expensive polycarbonate film that is stretched over the structure’s steel skeleton to create walls.

The steel tubing is lazer cut and fits together like an Erector Set, and McCabe has managed to reduce labor time by a third from a year ago.


NiftyHoops make hoop house growing of tomatoes possible due to easier trellising.

Janet Miller | For

And the design has been adapted for growing farm crops, while hoop house kits are meant for growing flowering plants, McCabe said. Nifty Hoops have a lower cross brace system which allows for easier trellising of tomatoes, cucumbers, egg plant and other vine crops.

After self-financing the $100,000 in start-up costs with the help of family - McCabe couldn’t get a bank loan - McCabe started Nifty Hoops a year ago.

While he hopes Nifty Hoops will help Washtenaw County reach its goal of growing 10 percent of what its residents consume, he also wants it to make farming more profitable.

A farmer can grow $20,000 worth of food in a 30-foot-by-96-foot Nifty Hoop that occupies a fraction of an acre, McCabe said. That same farmer can only grow several thousand dollars worth of food on an acre of farmland during the regular growing season, he said.

While Nifty Hoops makes the job of farming easier, it also saves money, said Dan Bair, farm manager at The Farm, at St. Joseph Mercy Health System.

The Farm installed a Nifty Hoop, the latest of three hoop houses on land across from the hospital, which cost $12,600. An earlier hoop house bought as a kit and installed by volunteers cost $15,000.

Most hoop houses are not heated, and daylight is too short to foster growth in the coldest months. Still, hoop houses extend seasons - the short season for spinach, for example - into February, March and April.

In December and January, hoop houses act as sort of a refrigerator for hardy crops such as carrots, kale and collard greens planted in the fall. Still, these crops are harvested in the winter.

McCabe was involved in local food issues - the Friday breakfast salon SELMA Cafe is at his house and he sat on the Board of Directors of People’s Food Coop - before he started Nifty Hoops. Proceeds from SELMA were being used to finance and build hoop houses.

There were six Nifty Hoops constructed last summer and 14 have been installed so far this season. McCabe hopes to end 2012 with a total of 25 new Nifty Hooss. He’s looking at 50 in 2013. And McCabe may start to offer add-on options such as irrigation and trellising systems.

“America has done everything it can to decimate the family farm,” McCabe said. “(This) production makes farming more viable.”



Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 1:05 p.m.

This is yet another story that highlights the problems with Local Governments and their assault on the average property owners. Why use a hoop house just for farming? They look like it could be used for a non-profit to shelter the "Camp Take Notice" homeless for the cold months and another for farming! A friend of mine wanted to open an old fashion doctor & dentist office in a house that was zoned commercial residential he bought in Northfield Township, after thousands of dollars in parking lot site plans, landscaping plans and attorney fees over 3 years he decided to abandon the idea. Until I read this story I did not know of Jeff McCabe or SELMA nor do I live in A2, but I do agree with andy kelly about "Is it okay for one person to operate a business with NO RED TAPE AT ALL, while others must abide by the rules and invest a huge sum to make that happen." The answer is "NO."

Ron Granger

Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 8:46 p.m.

There certainly seems to be a lot of hate and FUD in this thread against a local business dedicated to the expansion of local farming.


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 12:19 a.m.

So like most eco hysterics, you want to redefine value and replace it with some irrational emotional attachment that his so adorable, it's priceless. LOL Sure - go to it - it's call MARKETING and is used to sell green power, consumer controlled global weather and electric cars to chumps all day long. If the buy it, you win but when they wise up, you have nothing. In the end, you are making people's lives more expensive in exchange for nonsensical claims. ...that to has been done for centuries - go for it. As far as what businesses can make you wealthy - you need to pay for that kind of info dude.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 12:48 a.m.

sorry but your wrong again shep. the products it produces have value to me. i get a better product locally and my customers "tell" me they like it. they want it so i keep using the product. I sell it and make money to pay myself, my employees and I support a small business. thats value to me, my customers, my employees and the local economy. its your free market it in action buddy. how can you say it has no value. oh, I forgot only big companies add value. they drive job growth right? all us little guys should just go get a "real" jobs not start small businesses. but wait I thought thats what we should do. oh i forgot we can only start business that fit certain criteria. Oh, ok I got it nothing to green, nothing to progressive, and certainly no electric cars. Just so I have this right could you please provide me with the correct criteria for companies to start in your "free" market. Please do tell because I want to be succesful.

andy kelly

Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 12:36 a.m.

Ron, disagreement is not hate! Are we all supposed to think alike, walk alike and act alike? If so wouldn't that be Nazi Germany? Opinions, while that may not be of your liking, do not equal hate - just opposite thought. Local business is swell, encouraged and supported by this old women, but I also believe transparency - do you? And Shepard145 - extending the growing season is not a new idea. it has been explored in different ways going all the way back to Roman times. Paris in the 19th century was a hot bed of winter growing. So, artificially extending the season here in the north is just an expression of human creativity and ingenuity. Making it into a business in the capitalist lean. Additionally, to break everything down to a cost analysis, including gardening (as mentioned in the above thread), is one of the ways that you interpret worth/value. It might not make sense to you to tend a garden or create a local food business, but for others the value and investment is not in the dollar but in the community.


Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 11:41 p.m.

That's because it makes no sense and has no value Ron. Businesses that do make sense thrive in AA or elsewhere.


Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 7:23 p.m.

Hope the resulting prices aren't jacked up because of the small scale. Everyone should be able to enjoy the fruits and veggies from these kinds of farms.


Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 4:09 p.m.

This is the absurd economics of ethanol, green energy and electric cars applied to farming and is just as much a dead end. The low cost, high quality food we enjoy comes from sophisticated ultra efficient mega farms in soil rich, temperate climates with long growing seasons and massive operations on THOUSANDS OF ACRES. Crops are harvested on a massive level and transported to your local market via train/truck by the ton. This is the opposite designed for people who don't understand farming, engineering or economics. It supports little boutique operations that try to grow food in a cold climate with a short growing season on a tiny scale for reasons that make sense to few if anyone. …I hope your banks are also new at this game or you won't get a dime.

Andy Piper

Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 11:09 p.m.

Most of the mass produced stuff has no flavor and is often harvested well before it is ripe to make it possible to ship and handle. If I can's smell it, I don't buy it.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 2:23 a.m.

Oh ouch, I'm so offended! So you try to grow a crop of tomatoes in the winter in Michigan of the same quality and price as one those grown in Florida that spend a few hours on a truck and we'll see who stays in business the longest! LOL And it doesn't have to taste better – it's the MONEY. – taste is subjective and few people would never know the difference. So you can almost spell Friedman – big deal. Even though he was a superior economist to nit wit obama's hero John Keynes, this a new world Keynesian economics is a failure for reasons are obvious. Your concern over the economies of the countries you list is misplaced – most are more socialist then market economies. United States greatness has little to do with economic theory and unique in the history of the world for reasons are vast but I am to bored to go into them.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 12:29 a.m.

your right shep the market will provide just like it did in chile, argentina, brazil and most of south america. everyone has been lifted out of poverty by your hero milton freidmans economic polices and and the work of his minions. thank god for the free marketit saves all! and o yeah I work in the food business and I freaking guarantee you that tomato from 1000 miles away doesnt taste better than one grown here. you can say what you want, it doesnt matter because you are wrong on this just like you are on many other subjetcs you cliam to be an expert about. frankly all I see is another blowhard conservative.


Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 11:40 p.m.

This dude thinks it makes sense to raise crops in Michigan in the winter – this has nothing to do with your vegetable patch. Still, you likely spend more on your "organic garden" than it's worth since everything you've listed is cheap to buy at the store. Despite their best efforts, there is no proof that "organic" is anything but a marketing gimmick – something else it has in common with phony eco products. Who cares if it's thousands of miles away? – it tastes the same and the claim that somehow the fuel or whatever it takes to move a tomato that distance controls the earth's weather is moronic. …the entire notion of so called "urban farming" is largely a misunderstanding of one of the stupidest LEED credits that claims that trucking products from some distance is "bad for the environment". Something they could never debate with a straight face. Once the obama disaster is dumped in the trash can of history, common sense will return to America and the market will provide for all – the same market that created the greatest economic prosperity in the history of the world.


Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 10:59 p.m.

yep shep anything green is bad. its all a dead end. why even try and plan for the future. just keep on doing the same old thng. screw clean energy, electric cars and home grown food. who needs it. a freaking free for all is the best answer. the free unregulated market will always provide whats best for us and for those who it doesnt screw them anyway. Milton Friedman forever dude!


Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 10:05 p.m.

shepard145, many citizens don't share your idea of "high quality."

Ron Granger

Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 8:48 p.m.

I guess I should go pull out my organic garden. The tomato plants. And the cukes. And peppers. And the spices. And garlic and onions. Clearly I don't understand the advantages of chemically grown versions from thousands of miles away, enriching large corporations.


Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 1:38 p.m.

It would be helpful if there were some way to integrate a rain-barrel, drip irrigation system while maintaining the structural integrity. Maybe with a flap/gutter arrangement?The water that falls onto these structures during even a light rain is significant.


Tue, Aug 14, 2012 : 11:08 a.m.

I don't think you clearly understand how rain capture systems work. They fill while it rains and then disperse when it's NOT raining. Do they eventually empty? Of course. But then, when you have to, you fill the barrels to water your garden (which are hooked up to a drip system). You end up using FAR less municipal water.


Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 11:48 p.m.

Rain barrels are stupid because when that water is needed in the middle of the summer tim, they are EMPTY. But they are full when there's lots of rain! LOL There is a source of water almost every home has but dumps onto the ground, is independent of rainfall and available to water even the most chemically enriched eco garden for anyone who knows how to capture it. ...and no, not a well. Lets put on our foil eco thinking caps and figure it out.!!


Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 1:12 a.m.

This is wonderful. Good for him. Anything that can take the profits away from the industrial farms that supply all that fructose I'm all for. I've been putting up a lot of good healthy food from my garden this month and hope more folks will benefit from good food through his efforts.


Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 10:33 p.m.

SELMA Cafe has been a tireless champion in its celebration and support of local food initiatives. SELMA Cafe is a delightful gathering, as attendees will attest. Think of it is as a joyful gathering of friends and neighbors, with potential to make new friends, while sampling some yummy food. SELMA Cafe is a personable, neighborhood type of endeavor. They share food, ideas, conversation, and care, for a few hours on Friday mornings. Although some people may have concerns about SELMA cafe, they are highly misplaced. It's really just Lisa and Jeff's home, shared with some other warm-hearted and open-minded people. Jeff is a tireless, dedicated engineer and builder. He walks the walk in attempting to make a positive difference. I hope that he is rewarded financially in his hoop house endeavor. Many of those in his field have had to leave our area due to the economy. Builders, engineers, and architects have had it pretty rough. Thanks Jeff, for your dedication and vision. You are appreciated!

andy kelly

Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 6:21 p.m.

A2grateful, thank you for citing the municipal code as this is exactly what the issue is. A home based business is one thing, but a home based resturant, or cafe as this business is named, is another. If you look at Title VI you will see that restaurants, or cafe's., are subjected to a host of requirements prior to opening their doors and serving food to the public. Maybe I should approach this in a different way. What would happen if one or two houses in each Ann Arbor neighborhood aligned itself with a non-profit and hosted a cafe open to the public once a week. Would anyone have an issue with that? If not, maybe we should pull off a little civil disobedience. You can take your not-for-profit profits and start a for profit venture. Sound good? Are you in? And, just in case you think that I am joking or being condescending let me put that to rest by stating that I am 100% serious!


Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 4:52 p.m.

Yeah, I'd try to figure out how to do MORE of this sort of thing. People should get the hang of adding value to meat and produce that comes from the immediate vicinity, thereby supporting more variety and quantity in the area. Any way of doing that eliminates links of the 1000's-of-miles supply chain and brings all that in close. As gas goes from $4.00/gal to $10.00/gal and beyond, this will become a necessity. Canning and drying for the winter should be going on now in advance of it being forced on you by resource scarcity and skyrocketing supermarket food prices.


Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 12:44 a.m.

andy kelly: ". . . Why can Jeff and Lisa pull this off every week in their home without ANY questions?" When they first started, they underwent much scrutiny by the city and county, revising their operation to comply with applicable laws. If you are interested in a home-based business in a residential district of the city, you might be interested in reading Ann Arbor's online zoning ordinance: index.aspx?clientId=11782&stateId=22&stateName=Michigan Title V, Chapter 55, Article II, 5:10.2, item 4, Permitted accessory uses There are many permitted accessory uses. Hundreds, if not thousands, of Ann Arbor residents are involved with some sort of home-based business. No one is stopping you from engaging in an accessory use. Best wishes to you in your endeavors!

andy kelly

Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 11:22 p.m.

Agreed. Jeff IS an amazing person who is doing a great deal for the local farming movement. I have spoken with him at Selma and at the Food Summit and was impressed with his depth of knowledge and drive. This again is not the issue. The issue is simple - why can Jeff and Lisa pull this off every week in their home without ANY questions? I would be a total convert and drink the Selma punch as well if only the Selma concept could be duplicated without unnecessary gov't involvement.


Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 11:03 p.m.

Hear Hear.


Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 7:13 p.m.

Just because someone here says "I want to do a business, too, but they won't let me!" doesn't mean it is true. Without a name, details, or documents, there is no way to investigate. This sounds like a beneficial business. If your beef is with city hall, complain about them or provide documents. I don't think much can be done to help your case here, in a comments section, with vague accusations.

andy kelly

Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 11:31 p.m.

Congrads on posting correctly! Although your argument is still weak and nurtures a slave-like mentality. I for only believe that the press is 100% responsible to investigate carefully before posting blindly. Leaving the press to euphemize a story does not enable an educated public - is that what you want? Tommy J went so far to pen "I would rather have free a press and no government, than a government and no free press."


Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 11:21 p.m.

People are free to post wherever they see fit. The newspaper is not responsible to investigate something YOU feel so strongly about. If you have some documents and facts that relate to a level playing field, write a letter to the editor, hire a lawyer, or take action. In order to prove there is no level playing field, there will need to be some evidence. I know nothing about SELMA, or your proposed business, and have no bias. I just read a nice article. Newspapers have to get stories out fast and on a budget. The days of research and issues coming out once a day or once a week are gone. Staffs are smaller. Readers used to have to think about what they wanted to say, write it, and send it in as a letter to the editor. Times have changed. My point was that I thought the article was nice and if you have such anger over what you perceive as criminal behavior within the system, then do something about it and change the system. How would the editor even know what to investigate without some specific names, dates, documents, fees, invoices, etc.? I am not commenting anymore. Thank you for a nice article on an interesting topic. These hoop houses sound useful and beneficial. Local food production sounds safe, delicious, and beneficial.

andy kelly

Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 8:24 p.m.

UofM_Fan, you need to learn to hit the reply comment to respond directly to a comment - it kind of keeps things organized. Yes, I understand that you have this protectionist bias when it comes to Selma. I get it. But rather than try to create an attack to direct attention from the question at hand, maybe you could just answer. As stated above, "You confuse the negative for asking that the local playing field be equal. Is it okay for one person to operate a business with NO RED TAPE AT ALL, while others must abide by the rules and invest a huge sum to make that happen. I agree that we need more local business benefiting from good food, but at what price/cost? Also, simply does not do any work at exposing a true news story. It just points out the surface. It is up to us - Ann Arborites - to investigate and expose. Here is a platform. Since the article mentions other endeavors associated with Mr. McCabe, including the financing of the hoop houses, it opens the article to more than just hoop houses. I have never been one to analyze a book without reading past the cover. Is that your suggestion? "


Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 4:34 p.m.

Lazer? Is that different from laser?


Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 4:20 p.m.

Try reading this aloud: Assembly can take days, and there is one area one farmer who spent a month on the project, McCabe said.


Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 4:09 p.m.

One extra one? Bring back the typewriter!


Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 3:36 p.m.

Why so much negativity? We should welcome new businesses. This has nothing to do with other people trying to start businesses. That discussion is better elsewhere. This is about one thing - hoop houses. It is beneficial for businesses and families to grow their own food and to grow food locally.

andy kelly

Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 11:17 p.m.

Again, Ross's enthusiasm is wonderful - mislead - but wonderful. I know several people associated with Selma, I have been there a good handful of time and enjoyed myself (and the food - yum!). But that still is not the point and if we can stick to the question it might seve all us well.


Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 11:01 p.m.

Andy, you want to investigate? Head over to Selma for breakfast and talk with real people. Speculating pointlessly on the internet just makes you sound like an angry curmudgeon.

andy kelly

Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 4:48 p.m.

Negativity? Well, no - simply vetting the system. You confuse the negative for asking that the local playing field be equal. Is it okay for one person to operate a business with NO RED TAPE AT ALL, while others must abide by the rules and invest a huge sum to make that happen. I agree that we need more local business benefiting from good food, but at what price/cost? Also, simply does not do any work at exposing a true news story. It just points out the surface. It is up to us - Ann Arborites - to investigate and expose. Here is a platform. Since the article mentions other endeavors associated with Mr. McCabe, including the financing of the hoop houses, it opens the article to more than just hoop houses. I have never been one to analyze a book without reading past the cover. Is that your suggestion?

Vivienne Armentrout

Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 2:34 p.m.

The "10% local food challenge" idea that is mentioned here was discussed at more length, including within the comment thread, in an article from 2010. The link to the Ann Arbor Chronicle story is Note that this thread highlights the contrast between actual data analysis and an attractive, simply stated goal. One of the challenges in our food picture generally is that much locally grown food is not in processed form. As any subscriber to a CSA will testify, during peak season there is a flood of vegetables that can require a lot of work to convert to a meal on the dinner table. I've been acquiring a library of cookbooks for vegetables and learning to pickle and freeze. But it requires serious work. It's what we should do. (And here should be a nod to Locavorious, a company that freezes local produce, and to Kim Bayer, who has written many articles explaining how all this works, including one about Locavorious.


Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 2:09 p.m.

The non-proft/for profit does sound off here. Would this fly? A for profit sports uniform company holds car washes at its HOME business every Saturday for different school's sports teams, the sports uniform company provides all the organization and labor (even if it is unpaid). Then the money "raised" goes to the school sports team so they can buy the company's goods. I don't think so.

andy kelly

Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 3:02 p.m.

Thank you for being brave enough to voice yourself. I just do not understand how this local venture rings in so much support, yet when people (there have been several) try to duplicate it (with a different non-profit) they are threaten and immediately shut down. How is this possible? WHY is this not exposed? And, most of all, why do some in the "foodie" community protect this with a cult-like stance?


Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 2:04 p.m.

What is the longevity of polyethylene compared with polycarbonate? And what is the cost to resheath the hoop house when the skin disintegrates as it will and what are the environmental impacts of polyethylene. Corn, oil?


Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 11:56 p.m.

Yea what is the warranty on that sheet plastic? LOL Why to greenhouses built by adults use glass instead?


Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 7:21 p.m.

I was thinking that probably some of these hoop houses might need some security. Vandals might tear open the plastic just for fun and vandalism, unfortunately. Nice idea to build more of these, but some security might be needed.

average joe

Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 5:17 p.m.

Longevity ranges from one year to 4-6 years before it starts to break down due to UV exposure. One can put on the longer range (4-6 year film) poly, but costs are higher over the one year film.


Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 1:21 p.m.

I think we have come full circle on Farming! At one time, almost everybody was a farmer then only a few were farmers and now Mr. McCabe is trying to get more people farming. I wonder what this will do to "Made Man Climate Change"? Keeping so much land warmer than the normal is probably worst than driving a car? (If you "BELIEVE" in this sort of stuff)


Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 11:55 p.m.

The United States raises more food on less land every year and have for decades - including feeding 37 other countries. This is silliness for the eco clueless who still have more money then sense. ...don't ask what obama's ethanol government fuel mandate is doing to the cost of food after the hot summer's effect on might not like him much if you manage to figure it out.


Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 10:59 p.m.

Thinking persons of Ann Arbor are still waiting for you to stop posting, xmo. Continually unhelpful pointless diatribe.


Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 2:01 p.m.

Made Man Climate Change? So the Mafia is involved in global warming too.


Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 1:56 p.m.

Do you have a point to make or are you just doing random ranting with disconnected thought processes?


Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 1:03 p.m.

Could not get proper funding? But those Bush tax cuts still exist, so where are the promised job investments? Where is the taxpayer SBA unding meant for startups just like this? SPARKY where are you? Money is tight because the U.S. is really broke. Banks destroyed our working capital model. Those globalized bubble farms can now only afford to invest in their own imaginary produce (like derivatives). And who currently regulates U.S. banks anyway? Certainly not those two parties voted for? As some here say, just get out and do it. And so one person did it.


Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 1:03 a.m.

Dog, government has only made a handful of good investments, surely you jest! You are responding on this forum due to your government. Your life expectancy is into the late 70's because of your government and on and on. We aren't broke and the businesses are sitting on trillions because the middle class has been decimated by offshoring and the Wall Street thieves, therefore curbing demand. Europe tried austerity to solve their problems and they have plunged into a double dip recession. Of course Romney and Ryan's budget looks just like the failed European model.

average joe

Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 5:07 p.m.

Wait a minute- Wasn't it stated a few weeks ago that "you didn't build that...."?

Dog Guy

Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 1:35 p.m.

"Money is tight because the U.S. is really broke." No, LXIX, it is irrelevant that the government is broker than broke because it has made only a handful of good investments in the past (e.g. Erie Canal, Interstate Highway System). Many American investors have billions to invest, but are reluctant to invest because of uncertainty of what the government is going to do tomorrow to screw up their businesses, tax rates, etc.

Jimmy McNulty

Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 12:32 p.m.

I am curious as to how crops such as tomatoes are grown en masse in the colder months when bees are not present?


Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 1:18 a.m.

I don't believe you would find tomatoes growing en masse in a hoop house in a northern climate. The article did mention some of the crops that can be grown into the winter months.


Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 7:12 p.m.

actually it is possible 'en masse is a openeded deffinition. polinating tomato flowers of pretty easy to do by hand. depending on your labor and your defenision of 'en masse', you can do it by hand.


Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 1:33 p.m.

Not impossible to do it yourself.

andy kelly

Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 11:22 a.m.

According to a comment left by Lisa Gottlieb (Mr. McCabe's wife) on 5/2/5012 while defending the legality of Selma Cafe, "Selma Cafe operates as a non-profit thanks to our formal partnership with the Food Systems Economic Partnership (FSEP)." Yet, Mr McCabe just informed the in this article that, "Proceeds from SELMA were being used to finance and build hoop houses." So, if this is the truth then the actual proceeds did not funnel into FSEP as a non-profit, but made there way into the pocket one one person who operates a for-profit. Why do I care? Why point out the skeletons in the closet of our "greenest" activists? Because we all have to agree to protest the law or we have to agree to follow it. One man cannot skirt local food establishment ordinances, health inspections, city, county, state and federal taxes, and claim it is in the name of non-profit, when clearly it is not. After I commented on the Selma story back in May, Lisa Gottlieb defended their pop-up neighborhood restaurant and insisted that it would be a good thing for more of these to "pop" up. So, I established a connection with a reputable local non-profit and then visited city hall and the county building. They told me, with a threat in their voice, that I would first need a special permit issued by the city and county, the food preparation area and food itself would need to be inspected prior to serving, donations cannot be demanded by requested and posted, and I would need to obtain permission from my neighbors for what the city referred to as "inconvenience parking" or taking more than my fair share of street parking. So, I ask again, how can this man do Selma legally and why are there no investigations to the legality of this venture? you are journalists are you not? You might wish to do your job and uncover something that is rotten at the core.

andy kelly

Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 6:34 p.m.

Gee thanks justcurious. This old girl is not often called sweet. However, I problay think that you did not intend to compliment me with your sour grapes comment (hey love, sour grapes make sweet wine). Also, thank you for your advice on where I should spend my time. yet, I don't think that I need the advice. See, I have spent quite a bit of time (28 years) fighting for the rights of the individual over the corporation. And you know what I have found in that time? That the individual is quick to give up their rights and also the rights of their neighbors. Just like you did, by strongly suggesting that I silent myself in the face what I interpret as some sort of cronyism. I must confess that I feel very sorry for our young people today the way that the total individual control is being handed over to government. corporations and, yes, even our neighbors. How dare I ask any valid questions, so says jsutcurious. What happened to our quest for freedom propelled by curiosity?


Mon, Aug 13, 2012 : 1:16 a.m.

Smells like sour grapes to me. Spend your energy on fighting the corporations who are making people sick and sending folks to the doctor.

andy kelly

Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 11:13 p.m.

Ross, are you one of the leaders of the cult or just a cheerleader? Why is it that questions cannot be raised without attacks? It seems that the only argument boils down to the Selma folks are good people. It also is assumed that if someone raises questions they are not good hardworking people and "should" be ashamed. Ross, it might be a good thing for all of us if you "should" on yourself and not others!


Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 10:56 p.m.

Wow Andy, are you serious? Have you ever gone there to eat on a Friday morning? What you would find is a wonderful gathering of friends and neighbors eating a delicious meal together. All persons working the kitchen and service are purely volunteer. All the food is local. Patrons can choose to voluntarily donate to both covering the costs of food, and in addition, to niftyhoops. Demanding a journalistic investigation into something as wholesome and community-building as Selma is what smells rotten to me. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.


Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 10:56 p.m.

" So, if this is the truth then the actual proceeds did not funnel into FSEP as a non-profit, but made there way into the pocket one one person who operates a for-profit. " From the SELMA website, it looks to me like the funds raised by SELMA are used to loan farmers money so they can buy hoop houses. The farmers then pay back the loan with the proceeds from their enhanced growing season. Maybe Nifty Hoops sells the hoop houses, maybe they don't, that's not clear. Is there any reason to think that a farmer could get a loan from SELMA and then buy the hoop house somewhere else? I don't know, but at least one of the houses that SELMA helped build is not a size that Nifty Hoops sells, so that's some evidence.


Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 8:31 p.m.

This makes me curious; kelly, are you sure that this SELMA thing did NOT get those permits and neighbor permissions? And are people paying to go and eat at this breakfast thing or wahtever? Watching the interview video at their website, it seems like it's a friends' gathering, not an open-to-the-public eating establishment where you order and pay. Or is that nitpicking? What are the similar things that Biercamp try to do and can't?


Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 5 p.m.

I've said this before and I will say it again--the whole SELMA thing just smells rotten. No licensing, no idea who these "volunteers" are, no idea about cleanliness and safety standards. Meantime, the folks at Biercamp and other businesses go through hell trying to do the right thing and get shut down at every turn. Why don't we all just open up our own "restaurants" with "volunteer" laborers, hook up with some non-profit and roll around in our money and laugh and laugh. Meantime, you are exactly right...why is no one investigating this? What the heck is going on here???


Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 1:49 p.m.

Consumers Energy, Charter/AT&T/Sprint/Ect., as well as other companies paid out of the coffers of non-profits are for-profit companies. This particular non-profit, to me, looks like they bought one of these green houses to grow food for the ones they are helping. In order to do this they had to use some of the money at hand. How is this any different from them buying paper to solicit donations or for them paying their water or power bill?

Alpha Alpha

Sun, Aug 12, 2012 : 10:59 a.m.

Thank you, Ms. Miller, for an excellent article. An outstanding idea! A one time, inexpensive investment, which reaps rewards for years to come... Also, a few hoop houses in city parks would likely increase park utilization even further. Lead on, Mr. McCabe!