A cheetah is in our garden wielding a hacksaw.
Ok, it’s not a spotted feline; we’re talking about Cheetah, our gardener. (He does have a long, lion-like mane of hair, so that counts for something, right?) Inspired by a progressive Maine-based farmer, Cheetah spent the last couple of months spearheading the design and construction of a 12-foot-wide by 65-foot-long mobile greenhouse for our two-acre garden.
Together with our agriculture team, Cheetah cut and shaped 2-inch diameter fence pipe for the frame; drilled the myriad holes for bolt connections; welded the extra structural pieces—which included recycled parts from grain trucks—into the end caps; and customized fasteners with used bicycle tubes to avoid shredding the canopy. It was an undertaking, no doubt, but the thing is just cool (and more importantly will help our restaurant, which means better meals for folks like you).
Making the greenhouse mobile is actually fairly simple. Caster wheels attach to the bottom of the ribs that run the length of the structure. With a helpful hoist from a few guys on our garden team, we can slide long pieces of pipe beneath those wheels. The pipe serves as the track for the wheels to follow—think sliding screen doors. At that point, one person can comfortably push the greenhouse, which glides from one plot to another.
The payback for this fun project is twofold. By shielding plants from frost or, conversely, bumping up the temperature when it’s cold, the mobile greenhouse will extend the seasons of important crops like tomatoes and lettuce, both of which we use plenty of. That means more consistency and fewer veggies to purchase. Also, our home of Chico, California, often reaches triple-digit temperatures during the dead of summer, and that heat can compromise the quality of sensitive items like bell peppers. Shade cloth on the mobile greenhouse will prevent sunscald and yield the brightest, healthiest peppers for customers to munch on in our restaurant.
In 2012, we harvested more than 28,000 pounds of fresh produce and herbs—9,400 pounds of tomatoes alone—but we know we can dial that up, and we can do it better. The mobile greenhouse is a step forward. While we champion quality in the brewhouse, it weaves into all facets of our brewery experience, including Cheetah doing good work in his natural habitat.