Changing seasons are shifting the focus at McLaughlin Grows Urban Farm. The atmosphere from March well into October centers on growing, growing…..and more growing. But late in autumn, the focus moves towards “putting the farm to bed.” Those working with McGrows are pulling the spent plants from the fields, removing the trellises to make room for tilling, pulling up plastic to fertilize for next years’ produce, spreading wood chips and mulch to build new soil. It is time to prepare for the hard, killing frosts….the first blanket of snow.
But something very special is happening INSIDE the hoop house on the Hackley farm site. New seeds are sprouting and transplanted greens are finding their second wind under the plastic at McLaughlin Grows! The sunny days of winter will allow the air in the hoop house to become much warmer than the outside, sometimes pushing temperatures well into the sixties. This warms the soil, which allows the greens and herbs to flourish, allowing the farm to bring fresh, clean produce to the farmers’ market during the coldest days of the year. Even when the nighttime air temperatures dip well below freezing, the warmth of the soil under the plastic dome keeps the plants comfortable enough to continue producing food for the community.
McLaughlin Grows is looking to grow BIGGER! The hoop house has enabled us to produce food year round, but with the help of a generous donor, we have an opportunity to build a green house that will allow us to control every piece of the growing process, from seed to plant. Because of this donor, every one of your dollars will be matched, $1 for $1 up to $5,000 towards the green house build. Be part of the local food systems change that is happening in Muskegon, feeding our core city neighborhoods, from the inside out
Soon the call will be going out for volunteers to come and help tuck in McLaughlin Grows for the winter. But don’t think this little farm will be going to sleep completely. Under that big plastic hoop on Mercy’s Hackley campus, there will be an amazing amount of activity. The spent warm weather plants of this past growing season will be giving up their space to an abundance of cool crop greens and herbs. The farm may be settling down for the season, but it will continue to grow food for our friends and neighbors even as the snows pile up outside the gates!