We Bought a House

A greenhouse, that is. Actually, just the skeleton. Now we have to round up the organs and make the thing come to life. My good friend Craigslist told us about a bunch of greenhouses for sale just 2 1/2 hours south of the farm. So, I drove the empty pickup and flatbed trailer down on a rare free Saturday to check it out. And what a scene it was. It's acres of greenhouse skeletons, abandoned vehicles, sheds, shacks, and peeled-paint houses. There are piles of pipes and plastic and large covered buildings filled to the gills with fans, racks, and knick-knacks (I think I might have a rap going here - backbeat anybody?). There was everything including the kitchen sink (I even asked about it - triple, stainless steel - not for sale).

I was too much in awe of the place to get any photos that capture it as a whole, but I'll likely head back that direction to pick up some greenhouse tables and who knows what else as yet to be discovered in some pile somewhere.


Dan admiring the geometry.

This place was a century-old nursery that fell on hard times. The current owners are four years into the process of cleaning it up. The story is, as told by Mike, the very friendly bearded man who helped me out, the family who owned the nursery all those 100+ years experienced a messy divorce, owed lots of money (including to Syngenta) and lost the place. The current owners bought it from Syngenta ("this little German chemical company", as Mike put it) and are now selling off the acres of greenhouses. What you get when you buy a greenhouse here is essentially just the hoops and a natural gas heater. I also picked up a fan and exhaust. The structures are 100-140 feet long and you take as many hoops as you want to make the length you need. I took 13 hoops for my desired 30x50' greenhouse. My good friends Dan, Kim, and Kelsey helped deconstruct it and load up the hoops and equipment. We had to rent a propane weed torch to melt the ice that had cemented the bottom of the hoops to the ground posts.


Kim and Kelsey load the trailer.

When all was said and done, it seemed like an awful lot of time and energy for a handful of galvanized pipes, a fan, a heater, and exhaust. And we still have to reassemble it, get plastic, pull power out to it, determine if we can convert the natural gas heater to propane, get propane to it, and numerous other tasks as yet to be realized. All in the adventure that is Prairie Heritage Farm.


Greenhouse in a trailer with little girl snowpants as a flag.
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