Planting structure at Dennehotso damaged

Navajo Times | Krista Allen
Quantaina Marcus, 12, and her brother, Carlos Marcus, 13, fill old tires with sand last Thursday evening in Dennehotso. The old tires are being used to build walls for a hoop house that will be used to grow food for the community.


When a nearly completed hoop house was destroyed here last weekend, it revealed a wound in which its whole history could be read – the time and effort, happiness and prosperity, challenges withstood and the land on which it was established.

Dennehotso Chapter manager Matthew Austin last weekend discovered damage to the hoop house, which volunteers had been working on since November.

Someone had knocked down the structure of old tires that would have been a 1,000-square-foot hoop house. It was to be used year round to grow food for the community.

Austin and those involved in the project were angry.

“I was perturbed to have people doing something like that,” said former chapter president Frank C. Yazzie, who is now a member of the land-use planning committee.

Yazzie said the damage was assessed and filed with the Kayenta Police District.

“It looked like they took a rope and tied it to the top (of the structure) and pulled it apart,” Yazzie said. “It was upsetting, especially for us who are trying to do something for the community.”

Now project workers are rebuilding and securing the old tires that will be used to retain heat from the sun, warming soil inside them.

“Each tire weighs between 300 and 600 pounds, depending on how big it is,” explained Gordon Barrett, missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who is completing a third winter mission with his wife in northern Arizona. “We pack dirt in them – that’s the design of the hoop house.

“The hoops will come onto a rebar, on top. Then we’ll cover it with plastic,” Barrett continued.

Barrett said chapter officials had visions of a community garden. But the plans did not come to fruition until the Barretts from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, arrived.

The garden project committee settled on a versatile hoop house made of old tires, which were donated by Kayenta Transfer Station.

“We’ve had growing pains and this was the worst one – they pushed the (structure) down on us,” said Barrett, who is part of the LDS Church’s Navajo-Hopi Garden Project, now in its seventh year. “Outside that, it’s been all right.”

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Krista Allen

Krista Allen is a former reporter for The Navajo Times who is now a freelance writer.