Last Resort Farm: Post Harvest Case Study (Video Series)

Silas Doyle-Burr is managing Last Resort Farm in Monkton, VT, taking over the operations from his parents on the farm he grew up at. The farm was purchased in 1987, and transitioned from dairy farming to vegetable production in 1993, and now grow 26 different crops split just about evenly retail vs. wholesale. The following link is a playlist of videos taken with Silas showcasing some of the features implemented to turn a dairy barn into a vegetable wash and pack space. 

  1. Highlight video (1min)
  2. Overview of Last Resort Farm and the decisions behind building out this space (9min)
  3. The benefits, decision, and concerns of the build (5min)
  4. The details of the coolers instrumentation and controls (6min)

Mighty Clean and Comfortable (Video Series)

Lisa MacDougall has led Mighty Food Farm through start-up, relocation from rented land to owned land, and now through the construction of a brand-new 60 ft x 90 ft wash and pack shed. She’s done this all while producing a diverse mix of organic vegetables, tree fruit and berries on fourteen acres, now, in Shaftsbury.

We’ve already posted a write-up about this case study here, but we just released videos that go along with it! In the playlist below there is an intro video, followed by a video showing the washing process in the new space (2min), the use of a Grindstone Barrel Washer on carrots and beets (2min) as well as the full-length interview (11min) with Lisa about the project. Enjoy!

 

The BarnHouse: Optimized for Modern Day Vegetable Farming at Footprint Farm

 Download the PDF Fact Sheet of this Post Harvest Case Study Here!

Taylor Hutchison and Jake Mendel own and operate Footprint Farm in Starksboro, VT. Starting their own farm in 2013, they now produce pretty much everything except storage potatoes and storage squash with 66 different kinds of vegetables grown in both fields and high-tunnels.

The new barn features everything needed for their diversified vegetable farm. In fact, it’s so efficient they live on the 2nd floor!

Continue reading The BarnHouse: Optimized for Modern Day Vegetable Farming at Footprint Farm

Podcasts For Agricultural Education and Insights

Podcasts! A radio talk show that you can listen to when you want to. When you subscribe to them, they automatically downloaded to your phone and go with you in the car or to the field. Podcasts are a great way to keep your mind busy while doing daily tasks like making breakfast, stacking wood, weeding or harvesting. There is a wide range of genres to choose from, but Andy has highlighted a few farming related podcasts that are particularly relevant to the small and mid-sized farm community. The following podcasts are entertaining, educational, and motivating and we encourage you to check them out.

Farmer to Farmer Podcast
The Farmer to Farmer Podcast hosted by Chris Blanchard was one of the largest podcasts for the farming community. Interviewing farmers across the nation to learn the challenges, and successes of growing vegetables. Unfortunately, this series has come to an end after 176 episodes but is available to listen to, and be enjoyed by many.

Farm Small Farm Smart

Farm Small Farm Smart is a podcast produced by Diego Footer. Andy has been listening to this podcast for a couple of years. Similarly to the Farmer to Farmer podcast, he interviews small-scale farmers making a go of it. In addition, he produces a series with leaders in the small ag space like Curtis Stone, Conor Crickmore, and he just announced a new series with Ben Hartman to discuss lean principals on the farm.

Aside from vegetable production he also produces a show called Grass Fed Life “Where it’s all about raising cows, chickens, and pigs profitably on pasture, with farmer Darby Simpson.”

 

Our Farms, Our Future
This series is from the USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Program. “The Our Farms, Our Future podcast series brings together the sustainable agriculture community for thought-provoking conversations about the state of agriculture, how we got here, and where we’re headed. With each episode, we hope to share different perspectives within the sustainable agriculture community while tackling such topics as building resilient farming systems, farm profitability, and fostering community through local food systems.”

Do you listen to another farming podcast that you’d like to recommend? Shoot us an e-mail to tell us about it! We know of a couple more coming out in the near future, and will provide an update after the new year!

Expanding Your Tunnel Vision, Manchester NH

Andy ventured down to the high tunnel conference hosted in Manchester, NH on December 4th to expand his knowledge on protected culture. This program was co-sponsored by the Universities of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont and the Maine Organic Farmers’ and Gardeners’ Association, and was supported by Northeast SARE project LNE 15-343. His notes follow.

I wasn’t able to attend day one which was mostly pest and diseases. I did attend the second day which included more practice-specific information. The conference was filled with farmers and detailed information about growing under high tunnels. It was great to see many familiar faces, mostly cheery now that things have mostly slowed down and seed catalogs are arriving in the mail full of hopes and dreams.

The day started off with Vern Grubinger (UVM Extension and VVBGA) talking about the history of high tunnels, followed by every single different type or construction practice he’s seen. The list is long, and it covers everything as simple as a DIY caterpillar tunnel to a fully automated and digitally monitored greenhouse system. It was pretty nice to see many different features and options collated and presented together.

If you’d like to take a peek at the presentations they are posted here: https://extension.unh.edu/blog/2018-high-tunnel-conference-presentations-available

There were quick lightning rounds with short presentations sharing new research projects like saffron, scouting, and soil moisture. A couple takeaways:

  • Using shade cloth in the doorway is a useful curtain to keep birds out
  • Potted plants actually need less water than they probably are provided
  • Wrapping baseboard rigid insulation in roofing flashing makes it durable for rodent pressure or weedwhackers!
  • A presentation on water usage shared that many farms have no idea how much water they use and “pulse irrigation” (shorter more frequent watering) may be better for the plants, the soil, and the systems. This is a take away that I will put into practice, especially having a well with low flow it would be better to water smaller amounts more frequently than flooding hundreds of gallons in the evening that can wash away nutrients and promote diseases while the soil and plants sit saturated overnight.

The afternoon included a grower panel which is always fun. The panel discussed topics like mulch practices and most profitable crops. The top crops were noted as #1 Tomatoes and #2 Winter Greens! If you keep good records of the time you put into the crops, the prices you ask for them, and the number of successions planted you can analyze the highest value crops for your farm.

It’s rare that I go someplace without a camera, so here are a few shots I shot at the conference.

-Andy Continue reading Expanding Your Tunnel Vision, Manchester NH

Footprint Farm: Post Harvest Case Study – Video Series

Looking to upgrade your wash-pack space? Check out this interview with Taylor Hutchison from Footprint Farm talking about their motivations for building a new barn (house!) and including all the features they implemented to make it food safe and efficient. Stay tuned for a written case study, and a downloadable pdf coming soon. The playlist below features a 2.5min promo, an interview explaining the features of the wash-pack space (6min), more in-depth experiences and challenges from the build process (12min) and the last video showcases washing a batch of greens through their system (2min). Enjoy the videos!

Bins, Buckets, Baskets & Totes

Many diversified farms have a variety of containers to best handle individual crops.

So you’re starting to farm, or scaling up your production. You hear talk about food safety, and cleanability.  You are checking out what other farms are doing and are looking for harvest crates and storage bins.

You probably noticed lots of people use many different things. Some use 5-gallon pails, milk crates, muck buckets, some use totes found at the box stores, yet others use what seem to be specific, grey, flip top totes. Does it matter what you use? Not really, but you should have some sort of method to the madness on your farm to help minimize contamination, reduce mix-ups and wasted time. Consistency is key to organization and efficiency.

I commonly hear “Ok, I like this style of totes/bins/crates, where do I find them?” Well, hopefully, this blog post will have a few suggestions to point you in the right direction with user reviews, distributor information, and pictures of features.  Continue reading Bins, Buckets, Baskets & Totes

Mighty Clean and Comfortable – A New Wash and Pack Shed at Mighty Food Farm

 Download this Postharvest Case Study as a PDF Here!

Lisa MacDougall has led Mighty Food Farm through start-up, relocation from rented land to owned land, and now through the construction of a brand-new 60 ft x 90 ft wash and pack shed. She’s done this all while producing a diverse mix of organic vegetables, tree fruit and berries on fourteen acres, now, in Shaftsbury.

The packshed has become the central “hub” of the farm boasting new, slab on grade construction with a large overhead door on the east side for receiving from field and packing out for market, person-door for crew access on the northeast corner, and a second person-door for retail and CSA access on the northwest corner.

One of Lisa’s primary goals in her new location was “a proper P-shed”; a pack shed where she and her crew could comfortably and safely wash, store, and pack produce for delivery to her customers year-round.  Mighty Food Farm serves retail farm stand, farmers market, CSA, and wholesale customers.

Continue reading Mighty Clean and Comfortable – A New Wash and Pack Shed at Mighty Food Farm

A Vegetable Farming “Must Have”: Harvest Tote

Every vegetable farm must have a harvest tote, and I don’t mean a basket for picking into. What I’m referring to is a box with the daily essentials in it so you’re never without, and don’t have to go back to the barn.

This “Just-In-Time” kit is taken right out of the Lean principles and works outstanding on the farm just as it does in the automotive or manufacturing industry. Lisa MacDougall of Mighty Food Farm in Shaftsbury, VT swears by this little blue box she calls the “Harvest Tote” which holds all the essentials needed for daily harvesting out of the field.

What’s should you have in the box?

  • Harvest Knives
  • Snippers
  • Scissors
  • Sharpening Stone
  • Rubber Bands
  • Harvest Log
  • Pen, pencil or marker

This box always gets placed in the truck, every morning. These essential tools are kept all together and in one place at all times minimizing time to look for tools, or trips back to the packshed because the rubber bands were forgotten. This reduces downtime and saves wasted steps leading to increased efficiencies of operation.

This kit has food safety benefits too! With all the tools stored together, they are cleaned and sanitized all at the same time and logged, usually on a weekly basis. This Friday afternoon cleaning is also an opportunity for a weekly sharpening so all tools are in good shape for the week ahead. Keeping the tools in a tote keeps the knives from getting used for other activities outside of harvest which could contaminate them and make them dirty. Keeping the knives in a tote, also ensures that they are not stored in a hard to wash sheath, tossed on the dash of the truck, cup holder of the tractor etc.

Implementing this standard has many benefits and could be a great tech-tip to consider on your farm.

Postharvest Resource Survey

We are seeking input regarding a research and education project with the goal of consolidating postharvest information in a single set of resources.

Our proposed project aims to consolidate existing knowledge, best practices, and new developments in postharvest equipment, infrastructure, and buildings into a web-based handbook, workshop curriculum / educational materials and recorded videos.

Click here or on the picture to take the survey! 

This survey is voluntary and anonymous. Summarized and anonymized results will be included in a grant project proposal and also on our website (go.uvm.edu/ageng). Please direct any questions to Chris Callahan, chris.callahan@uvm.edu, 802-447-7582 x256.

The survey should take an average of 3 minutes to complete.

Thanks for your help.