It Takes A Village …

Reader Contribution by Amanda Wunderlich
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Back in the spring of this year, a storm ripped across this region with pounding wind and pouring rain.  The next morning we woke up to our hoop house, body slammed, and ripped to shreds.  It was quite devastating to us, we are small farmers, and as most know you don’t go into farming for the money.  This hoop was affectionately titled the “Mothership”, it being our first hoop, and just like a first child we fawned over it and took lots of pictures.  My partner Paul went out early in the morning to see if it had sustained any damage.  When he came in he told me there was nothing left, describing what he saw, snapped metal, splintered wood, complete loss.  Naturally I was upset, yet unprepared for the wave of emotion that came over me when I actually saw it for myself.  Coming up to it from a distance I started to cry.  I knew I was going to see it in ruins as I walked out there, but to see a mess where once a fruitful Mothership stood was too much.  After about five minutes crying, standing in the wet and cold I had to come to terms with our loss and let go, and be ok with that.  

We later found out via our local news that an F1 tornado had hit just a mile down the road, and we’re thinking that’s what took the hoop down.  

I was surprised to see that “it” whatever that was bent the couplers which held the arbors up, you can see them here flush with the ground.

Picking up the pieces was hard, especially since the rain didn’t stop.  This is Paul checking out the damage and wondering where to start.

In a bizarre twist, just before the Mothership was blown down this structure came into our lives.  It was an old greenhouse of a local man’s father who had passed away.  It had fallen into disrepair, and through word of mouth he contacted us to see if we were interested in deconstructing it.  We had just finished construction on our second hoop house and were excited that a third was on the horizon.  After the Mothership went down, this new beast was slated as her replacement, which was a lucky thing.

We are a host farm for the WWOOF program, and have had many volunteers out this summer, and those who were here in the later summer helped re-construct the Mothership 2.0!

Putting up one of these structures is like putting together a giant 3-D puzzle.  There are so many pieces that need to be constructed in a particular order (Duh) but still.  It took all summer to locate a business to swedge pipes to make the original greenhouse taller, and longer.  The “swedge” is the crimp in the top of the pipes, you can see to the right of this picture.  All of those pieces we had to have manufactured.

Without the help of WWOOFers, this process would have taken a lot longer, and they were really happy to help on such a large project.

Even my children got involved.

And the healing process can finally begin.  What a huge year this has been, so the fact that this structure was being re-built just topped off an insane amount of emotion, work, help, work, and more help.  

Many different faces appeared to work on different stages of this hoop at different times.  We’ve been working on construction over the past three months.

It was dusk, or near dusk and the enthusiasm of the group was high, so we decided to pull the plastic over the top…which is no easy feat!  It’s a giant plastic sail, so there can’t be ANY wind.

The large roof piece needed to be secured to the side of the hoop before it can be pulled over the structure.

This is Paul wiggle-wire-ing the plastic to the side of the hoop.

And the roof is ON!!!  What a long road.  A big ball of emotion wrapped up under moonlight.  Thank you WOOF-pack.  Thank you storm that blew down original Mothership, thankyou sir who came to us with new hoop skeleton, I love you Mothership 2.0!

We are Ozark Alternatives, a small farm and CSA in Northwest Arkansas.  I keep several blogs about our exploits that I would like you to check out:

2greenthumbs (http://

Ozark Alternatives ( http:// )

Northwest Arkansas Local Harvest ( http:// )

Thanks for reading my story, and I hope you read more.  And if you’re ever in Northwest Arkansas, come and see us.