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.
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.
Join Howard Prussack of High Meadows Farm, University of Vermont Agricultural Engineer Chris Callahan and Cornell Cooperative Extension Vegetable Specialist Crystal Stewart for a field walk discussing garlic and onion production and postharvest handling. The event will include a focus on Fusarium control practices, a hands-on demonstration of Allium Leaf Miner identification and discussion of control strategies, followed by a discussion of post-harvest handling best practices and ways to achieve these conditions at your farm.
High Meadows farm is a 65 Acre organic, diversified vegetable farm of rolling hills, fertile soils, surrounded by oak and maple woodlands. Situated just a short drive from the center of Putney, VT, it is Vermont’s oldest certified organic Farm. Howard Prussack and his team have been providing the community and greater New England with premium organic vegetables and potted plant plants since 1979.
UVM Extension helps individuals and communities put research-based knowledge to work. University of Vermont Extension, and U.S. Department of Agriculture, cooperating, offer education and employment to everyone without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital or familial status.
To request a disability-related accommodation to participate in this program, please contact Chris Callahan at 802-447-7582 x256 by July 5 so we may assist you.
This conference is filled with a variety of vendors at the trade show, presentations covering specific details of individual crops and varieties, and even talks on designing your farm with an eye on food safety. Another interesting activity that went on was the farmer to farmer sessions that are not presentations but a lead conversation to discuss what works and what doesn’t on your farm. A lot of tips, tricks, and common complaints are all brought up and shared during this literally circled up conversation.
If you’ve never been here are a few photos from the event, which was very snowy in mid-December.
Here is a short highlight video from the conference!
In December, UVM Ag Engineering ventured out to Grand Rapids, MI to attend the Great Lakes Expo.
This exposition was HUGE and full of a variety of seed companies, equipment suppliers, and machinery on display. There was a lot of technology targeted towards fruit growing which is big in that region which was neat to see.
The Vermont Agency of Agriculture and UVM Extension are co-sponsoring a VT-Style Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) Grower Training on Tue-Wed, November 7 & 8, 2017 (8:30am – 5:00pm) at the VYCC Monitor Barn in Richmond, VT. This is the official required training for FSMA covered farms (Click here to determine whether your farm may be covered or exempt).
The $30 heavily subsidized training fee includes the massive training manual, multiple meals, ample coffee, and the Association of Food and Drug Official (AFDO) certificate (a $130 value—not including space rental or instructor fees!). The AFDO training certificate satisfies FSMA Produce Safety Rule training requirement.
EVERYONE is invited: Regardless of scale, annual sales, or market outlets, all produce growers can benefit from learning about integrating practical produce safety practices on a working produce operation. Technical assistance providers, educators, and regulators are also invited and will benefit from this training. Whether you are a covered farm fully subject to Produce Safety Rule (PSR) regulations, or an exempt farm required to keep certain records related to your exemption, all aspects rule compliance will also be covered during this training.
The Training Schedule at a glance:
Day One (November 7, 8:30am–5:00pm) will provide an introduction to the FSMA Produce Safety Rule, employee health, hygiene and training requirements, and information about management of soil amendments as well as domesticated animals and wildlife. Includes on-farm exploration to apply concepts in the field.
Day Two (November 8, 8:30am–5:00pm) will cover agricultural water, postharvest handling and sanitation, and writing produce safety plans. Includes on-farm exploration to apply post-harvest concepts.
The University of Vermont Extension’s Northwest Crops & Soils Team along with Andrew Peterson of Peterson Quality Malt, on August 22, 2017 took a visit to the nearby barley fields at the Van De Weert Farm in Ferrisburgh and discussed barley harvesting and processing for malt production.We also toured the facility to learn about malting small grains and grain quality requirements necessary for producing high-quality malt at Peterson Quality Malt in Monkton, VT.
Thanks also to Rachel Shattman of Bella Farm for hosting a charrette walkthrough of her wash/pack and storage facilities. That provided a very real component to the course (and the Apple Crisp was excellent as well!)