Farm Life Opens a New Shade House

House 6, so named because it is our sixth shade-house on the property, has recently been completed. The first plants were brought in to house 6 in July of 2013, 10 months after land preparation began in October of 2012. The shade-house is a Cravo retractable roof house that sits on 2.5 acres roughly in the center of the nursery. Like our other 2 five acre Cravo shade-houses, Farm Life staff built this new shade-house entirely. Also designed and installed by Farm Life are 2 irrigation systems and an electric system for heaters and motors. Perkins Electric, ran the wires and made all final connections to complete the electric system.

This new shade-house, and the systems installed, are the result of six years of experience growing plants in two existing five acre Cravo retractable roof shade-houses. House six has two roof layers, the top is a 60% fixed shade and the bottom layer is the retractable 40% Polypropylene porous shade that functions as a shade source and a heat retention curtain. Additionally, a weather station that measures wind speed and direction, rain, solar intensity and temperature feeds information to a programmable computer allowing us to monitor and control the movable shade according to these inputs. The new growing facility is the tallest shade structure in the nursery by 2 feet. The top fixed shade is 16 feet above the ground and the bottom is 14 feet above the ground. The taller house will allow us to offer a new 12 - 14 foot height category for interior acclimated plants. All four sides are fixed, but built according to our design to allow a quick drop of the sidewalls in the event of an approaching hurricane. There are two water delivery systems installed. The first, is a drip fertigation system that attaches to our existing drip fertigation infrastructure. Drip fertigation allows us to provide water and fertilizer in the most efficient and clean way possible. The second irrigation system, attaches to our clear water electric watering system and terminates in a fogging system. This system is designed to lower temperatures in the growing area during the summer afternoons. After 2 months of operation, the fogging system is able to reduce temperatures by about 8 degrees during peak heat intensity hours. The electric system will power 10 propane heaters for cold nights during the winter. House six represents our best ideas in hurricane protection, cold and heat protection and water and fertilizer delivery using the simplest most economical designs we can accomplish.

High on the list of reasons for building this type of structure for plant production is hurricane protection. This Cravo shade-house, along with our other Cravo shade-houses, are engineered to withstand 120 mph wind speeds with all roofs closed. This allows Farm Life to protect 12.5 acres of plants in the event of a Category 1 and 2 hurricane. In the event of a stronger hurricane Farm Life can protect 12.5 acres of shade-houses by retracting the roofs and removing the wind drag on the structure. When the storm passes the roofs can be closed and the plants rehabilitated in a relatively short time. Normally the biggest plant losses come in the days after a hurricane when the sky clears and the plants are sunburned since no shade structures remain to protect them. In addition to retractable roofs, the sidewalls on all of our Cravo shade-houses are either retractable or are a custom design that allows our staff to quickly drop the walls in the event of a Category 3 and higher hurricane.

We invite anyone interested, to visit the nursery to see first hand how we use this technology to produce top quality interior plants. Farm Life would like to thank all of our customers for their business, allowing us to build these great shade-houses. We are excited about the new addition and look forward to producing even better plants in the future.