Author: Toni Stephan, Small Farms Program, Oregon State University
Publish Date: Winter 2015
At the September meeting of the Central Oregon Women Farmers Network we learned that one of our members was in the process of raising a hoop house that she and her husband had received a grant for earlier in the year. Construction had not advanced as quickly as was planned due to unexpected health problems for her husband. He had a heart attack shortly after they received the grant and he was not able to do the sustained physical work it took to raise the hoop house. Now in September time was drawing near a close to meet the requirements of the grant and they were not sure they would be able to get the construction completed.
We had some first time attendees at this September meeting who had heard of a program referred to as “WWOLF”, Willing Workers On Local Farms. They explained the program as one where a group of people were contacted about a work party at an area farm which was in need of extra hands for a particular project. A date was set and anybody who was able would come to work as a volunteer on the project for a set period of time. We liked this idea and decided to try it for our friends. So we set a date of September 21 from 10-3 to meet at the Wallaces’ to help move the construction of the hoop house forward. Meri and Jerry were to figure out what they needed us to do and organize the jobs. and supervise the workers on the day of the event.
It was a clear morning and people started to arrive just before 10 am. Meri and Jerry had decided that the job they needed done was to put up the side and bottom boards that would eventually support the anchor channels to hold the plastic in place. Five members of the Central Oregon Women Farmers Network, a neighbor, and Meri and Jerry got busy right away. It was like an ant hive, people going everywhere: Jerry and Wayne drilled holes, Meri chipped concrete and Lori, Rocky, Jan, Billie, and Toni bolted the boards in place. After a couple of hours we stopped for a little snack of chips, cookies and Yellow Pear and Jasper tomatoes, which had been grown by a couple of the members. Yummm! They were like eating candy: sweet and delicious. Back to work. After the boards were in place we started to attach the anchor channels. Around 2:30 we were pretty much at a standstill and looked around for Meri or Jerry to give us a new task. They were not around. Just then Meri came from around the corner by the house and said that we had worked so fast and hard that Jerry was worn out. We literally ran him ragged the whole day. We decided that we would quit for the day.
We all had a great time helping out our friends. We learned a little about setting up a hoop house and the Wallaces got back on schedule. They said our work advanced them a least a month closer to completion. This is a great example of how our network can work to the benefit of all.