hoop house 5Imagine growing vegetables all through the winter … in a garden in Iowa. It may seem far-fetched, but Prairiewoods is doing it! On Saturday, October 6, twenty-five people from the community helped build a hoop house and install a solar-powered root zone heating system in the Prairiewoods kitchen garden.

Since 2010, the Prairiewoods grounds have housed a Training Facility for the Iowa Renewable Energy Association (I-Renew). This solar-powered Training Facility is off the grid, and it often has a lot of unused solar energy.

Prairiewoods, I-Renew and RJ Construction teamed up to put that solar energy to work in the garden, which sits adjacent to the I-Renew Training Facility. The solar energy now flows through tubes below the garden’s surface, heating the roots of the vegetables growing above it. This, combined with a new hoop house, is allowing Prairiewoods to grow fresh produce year-round.

Last year, Prairiewoods served more than 7,600 healthy, local meals to its guests.