Dawn Over Hoops

Norfolk High Tunnel Controversy

Much hoopla over hoop houses! Lately there have been a lot of questions about what's going on with the high tunnels behind Dandelion Cottage. I've assembled a series of photos below to show what everything looks like. The charges and complaints to date are as follows:

• High Tunnel Aesthetics - a moot point. (scroll down)

• Too Many Chickens? Nope, just enough.

• The Question of Runoff... has it trickled away? Yet?!

And the misleading charge of "misrepresentation" on:

• Grant Eligibility Requirement: NRCS to LW, "Are you able to grow $1,000 worth of produce?" LW to NRCS, "Yup."

• Permits: Signed, sealed, and delivered.

• Resources Links to reading materials and information

• Kind Words What the folks have to say

• From My Point of View

Really, this is not a joking matter. I take these charges very seriously and it has caused me many, many stressful and sleepless nights. If my permits were to be revoked, I would have to return the grant money and it would bankrupt me. In addition, the unfounded complaints brought by my neighbors to the P&Z Commission are costing the tax payers of Norfolk quite a lot of money, taking into consideration the salaries of the two Zoning Enforcement Officers, the Town Assessor, and the lawyer's fees. Not without value are the untold hours of deliberation by the dedicated volunteers who sit on the P&Z board. I can not understand why this has gone on for as long as it has. It has cost me a year of production, a season of participation as a vendor at the farmers market, and the friendship of my neighbors.


High Tunnel Aesthetics:

How they look from the various vantage points

From Route 272

The view from Route 272, heading south. The rugosa rose hedge directly behind the stone wall will grow taller and fill in. One of the plants (directly under the hoop houses in this photo) is a gorgeous star magnolia that will grow to be 15' to 20' tall and completely obscure the view. In a couple of years the high tunnels will not be visible from this spot.


From the Deck

Looking east from the back deck. This is where the wooden framed doors and trellising with climbing vines will be when construction is resumed. When finished the effect will be a wall of flowering plants, with no view of the actual hoops. I'll be working on an artist's rendering of what it will look like when built and blooming. When it's finished, I'll post it on the website.


Inside Hoops

Inside the high tunnels there are twelve 4' x 8' raised beds. A modestly sized garden by comparison to many historic kitchen gardens and to other contemporary vegetable gardens right here in Norfolk. Several of the beds are left fallow with a green cover crop to feed the soil each year, further reducing the size of the active growing area. Much of the garden area is pathway. Since this shot was taken, the black landscape fabric has been covered with a woodchip mulch, and it looks really nice. The high tunnels, coupled with the low tunnels covered with floating row covers in winter (the little hoops pictured above), make it possible to grow fresh food year 'round, even in the bitter cold winters of "The Icebox of CT". (See "The Winter Harvest Handbook" by Eliot Coleman)


Rose and Asparagus Border

The brand new, one year old rose and asparagus border in front of high tunnels. These baby asparagus plants will eventually grow to be over six feet tall. The rose border will fill out and grow to over five feet tall and wide.



Aesthetics. A picture is worth a thousand words. But, back to the tunnels...


From the Sideyard

From the south sideyard - this garden is a work in progress, but that little rhododendron will grow to be about five foot tall or more.


View From the South

View from the front yard. The shrubs on either side of this fence will grow from eight to twelve feet tall. In a few years the tunnels will not be visible from here, or Route 272 either.


North Neighbor

The north neighbor - you can see a tiny bit of the house slightly left of center. Interesting to note that a couple of years ago they made the decision to clear cut half an acre of trees and convert it into an enormous lawn requiring much care. When I asked why, I was told, "To open up the view".


North View

North view again, my neighbor's roof barely visible at far right.



Looking north directly at my neighbor's house (center). Not much to see.



Looking south obliquely at my other neighbor's house, behind the hemlocks on right. This is the same neighbor who said (from Norfolk Now), "I would like to ... put up a high fence so I do not have to look at those unaesthetic structures [which] make my property lose value..." The funny thing is, there IS a high fence there - almost 150 feet of it! A 6' high stockade fence, but there is so much screening vegetation that you can't see that either. When I bought my house and fixed it up they said I added $10,000 to the value of their house. Go figure. (See before pix on "Kind Words" page)


South Neighbor

South neighbor again, Since I can't see their house at all looking out from the high tunnels, I moved way down to the side of my house to take this shot, where I can barely see a little something of the house - not much!



Southside, the apple orchard and sixty foot tall hemlocks - this is why I can't see their house looking from the high tunnels. If I can't see their house, how can they see the high tunnels? Answer: they can't.

And, what do I see when I look at my neighbor's yards?



metal trees



In conclusion, the Norfolk P&Z Commission has determined that the aesthetic issue brought up by my neighbors does not concern the P&Z. It is a moot point.