Investing in health: Tilth hoop house raising lifts spirits, business prospects

With a little help from friends, Matt Young tosses the last bit of plastic sheeting over the top of Dorcas Young’s, his wife, new hoophouse at Tilth. - Justin Burnett / The Record
With a little help from friends, Matt Young tosses the last bit of plastic sheeting over the top of Dorcas Young’s, his wife, new hoophouse at Tilth.
— image credit: Justin Burnett / The Record

With a few heave-ho’s of family and friends, Dorcas Young’s five-month effort to build a hoop house came to an end.

The structure’s final piece — its plastic roof  — was hauled into place Thursday morning at the South Whidbey Tilth Farmers Market off Highway 525.

And like barn-raising projects of old, it was a community undertaking. No paid workers, just volunteers wanting to help out a neighbor.

“Oh my goodness, I don’t know how to thank everyone,” Young said. “I’m so humbled and thankful. People have such big hearts.”

The Botswana-born Freeland resident built the hoop house, similar to a greenhouse, for her produce and African food business, but it was a bigger endeavor than she anticipated.

Tapping a Natural Resources Conservation Service funding program, Young was required to cover building costs up front but will be reimbursed if she meets certain criteria.

Main tenets of the program is energy conservation and year-long agriculture, and Young will have to earn at least $1,000 in sales annually for the next four years.

All of her produce will be organic, sold at local farmers markets or used as ingredients in the African food she makes and sells.

Young said she likes knowing where her food comes from and that other people do too.

“If you can grow healthy food and share it with the community, it’s a good thing,” Young said.

With the long-range funding plan set, Young still had to build the structure. Fortunately for her, friend Tom Steel was willing to help out. Justin Burnett / The Record | Dorcas Young smiles for a photo, having completed a five-month-long greenhouse project Thursday.

He spent the past few months erecting the wood and pipe building. It was largely a solo effort and claimed many hours.

But for Steel, it’s all part of island living.

“It’s good to promote a little community volunteerism,” he said.

Not having to always lock your door and neighbors helping neighbors is one of the reasons he and his wife, Anya Young, live on Whidbey.

Noting the many others who came together Thursday to help finish the project, he added that he’s not the only one who values a small-town philosophy.

“It’s very rewarding that this feeling of close-knit community still exists,” Steel said.

Young plans to use her new greenhouse immediately. She has seedlings at home and expects to have the first transplants in the ground by next week.


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