Chris recently served as a technical advisor to Rose Marie Belforti on her recent NE-SARE funded project to demonstrate a hydraulic press used to make fuel briquettes from manure and bedding. The machine, dubbed the “Biomass Beast” by Rose, was built for $5,766 and Rose demonstrated production of briquettes at a rate of 90 dry pounds per hour for 3 cents per dry pound. The briquettes were found to have 6,481 BTU/lb (at 10.5% moisture content) which compared favorably to dry cord wood (e.g. 5,649 BTU/lb for sugar maple at 10% moisture). They burned easily and well. All in all, the cost of production and the heating value suggests that these briquettes deliver energy at a cost of about $4.4 per million BTU (roughly the equivalent of $105 per cord of firewood or $0.60 per gallon of fuel oil).
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!
Having water when and where you need it can make a big difference in vegetable wash station efficiency. Planning for multiple “drops” or spigots around the wash area can make it more convenient to access water where it is needed. It can be helpful to consider the routing of the supply lines to avoid condensation on people and produce. Cold water flowing through the lines on a warm humid day can result in condensation of water that can drop from the lines. Running the lines away from walkways and produce areas can avoid this being a problem. Running the lines down low in wash areas can also help keep any condensation exposure at a minimum.
Also, investing in a hose hanger, hose reel or a trolley can help keep the hose off the ground, resulting in a cleaner and more safe work environment. Continue reading “Hanging Hoses”
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”
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.
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.
I recently had the opportunity to record a public service announcement (PSA) for WDEV. This is part of a series of PSA’s the UVM Extension colleagues contribute to. I decided to focus on ergonomics and shared some lessons from my grandmother and other sources. Click below to listen.
The text and additional resources are available below.
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
- 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.
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.
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, email@example.com, 802-447-7582 x256.
The survey should take an average of 3 minutes to complete.
Thanks for your help.
To learn more about forced air cooling visit go.uvm.edu/forcedaircooling
To download the PDF version of this plan click here!
Farms that need to cool smaller volumes of produce can also benefit from forced air cooling. Whether cooling stacked pallets, pallet bins or individual cartons, the same principals apply. A smaller pallet cooler was noted on the previous page, but this concept can be scaled down even further to fit your needs. Here is a prototype, that could fit on a countertop with-in a walk-in cooler.
Constructed of 2×4’s on top of a horizontal base made from 1/2” plywood cut 24” deep and 44” wide. Angled reinforcements were needed to stiffen the assembly.
To learn more about forced air cooling visit go.uvm.edu/forcedaircooling
To download the PDF version of this guide click here!
2”x12” lumber to make a 43” wide x 74” tall x 11-1/4” deep plenum for suction air distribution.
3/8” CDX Plywood with an 11-1/4” circle cut out for the blower suction inlet. Position this whole centered for even air pressure.