Nifty Hoop Houses: Local Food Infrastructure Rising in Detroit
May 18, 2012
Fresh spinach in winter
Last July, Ann Arbor resident Jeff McCabe turned his passion for local foods into a business designing, selling and installing hoop houses, a type of greenhouse that extends the growing season and doesn’t use electricity.
Nifty Hoops expects to sell 50 hoop houses in Michigan this year.
McCabe, a former home remodeler with an electrical engineering degree from the University of Michigan, devised a hoop house that was easier to install than those currently on the market.
So far, McCabe, 52, runs the business by himself. But to install his hoop houses, a process that can take at least seven hours, he gets help from a small group of people that he pays by the hour.
Nifty Hoop’s standard-size hoop house is 3,000 square feet and sells for $12,000, which includes installation costs. The biggest hurdle McCabe encountered was obtaining financing for his business. Banks wouldn’t lend to him, so he borrowed money from his family. Nifty Hoops is now profitable though McCabe pays himself a modest salary.
“I’m working a lot of hours, but I love it,” he said. “Every time we build one, we think of something new.”