We met Ivan Stoilov when he had the huge hole in the ground and was waiting out rain to finnish connecting all the large tubes for heat transfer on the second hoop. There was still a lot of work to be done on it and I would like to go back and see that hoop in operation.
The first hoophouse was full of fig trees, they were as tall as the hoop (14feet?) and grew with many limbs, like bushes. Unfortunately he had picked all the ripe figs on Friday night and took them to market on Sat. morning before we arrived. He said at that time that he got 75 cents to $1.00 per fig. He can get a few hundred figs per tree and the fruit I saw on his trees were much larger than mine. I suppose when you have a big city market and a rare fruit such as figs (in this area), you can get a price that seems unimaginable to most of us. Would sure be stretching the budget to buy enough to make preserves. :-)
I heard that there is a fellow South of KC who is growing figs in a hoop to sell (he has received help from Ivan), but don't know anymore than that. Another fellow only a few miles South of where I live (East of KC) is also growing figs. I am not sure if his are in a hoop or not. I used to have his phone number, but haven't contacted him yet.
I received an email from Marilyn Odneal at the Missouri Fruit Experiment at Mountain Grove Missouri last week and she told me they will be having a hoophouse workshop in March of 2009. These events are happening around the country, so you might be able to attend one of those as well, like the one that was at St. Joseph early in 2008. Our hoop came from Grower's Supply / Farm Tech that was mentioned in the Berry Basket article.
Would like to be able to join you in the trip to see Ivan's figs again, however it wouldn't be possible this month for us. We are still working on getting our hoop addition on and then will be working to get the figs planted, etc. There might be others in neighboring states who would like to join you on the adventure, much like Jon had with the group that went to Davis. I expect there will still be figs to taste at this time of year with Ivan. And it likely would be helpful to Ivan to have several people at one time rather than different people taking up work time on many different days. I know you will enjoy your trip.