UVM Extension Ag Engineering


Ventilation in Greenhouses and High Tunnels

I had the pleasure of facilitating a workshop at the 2019 NOFA-MA Summer Conference about Ventilation in Greenhouses and High Tunnels. It provided an opportunity to collect information from various sources, ground truth observations with growers, and to revisit some fundamentals. The big takeaway, for me, is that there are many, many ways to ventilate a protected culture environment and opportunities for improvement abound.  I hope this review provides a framework for troubleshooting some issues that may be common in the field.

Continue reading “Ventilation in Greenhouses and High Tunnels”

Wheels Keep Things Rolling at Root 5 Farm

A PDF of this case study is available for download here

Danielle Allen and Ben Dana own and operate Root 5 Farm in Fairlee, Vermont. This organic vegetable farm on the Connecticut River provides over 200 CSA members, farmers market, restaurant, and wholesale customers with local, healthy food. Over 100 different varieties of crops are grown on the 38 acres that make up the farm. Continue reading “Wheels Keep Things Rolling at Root 5 Farm”

Forced Air Cooling: Field Trial Results

Last summer we performed a series of precooling trials using small-scale forced air coolers to cool eggplant, watermelon, strawberries, blueberries, zucchini, and roasting peppers. The forced air cooling was done in parallel with standard room cooling and was shown to result in cooling rates ranging from 1.2 to 2.2 times faster than room cooling. This test demonstrated the feasibility and benefit of simple forced air cooling systems to smaller scale farms.

Continue reading “Forced Air Cooling: Field Trial Results”

Hygienic and Sanitary Design for Produce Farms

Hygienic design intentionally creates or improves spaces and equipment so they can be cleaned and sanitized as appropriate.

This joint illustrates how intermittent welds lead to a gap, or sandwich joint that can lead to harborage. A continuous weld that is then ground smooth would lead to a seal and be easier to clean, sanitize, and dry completely.

This post, associated PDF guide and checklist (PDF and Excel, instructions) are tools we developed to help apply hygienic and sanitary design practice on produce farms. We also collaborated on a video introduction to hygienic design with colleagues at Michigan State University.

These tools cover the five key principles of hygienic design for produce farms:

  1. Visible and Reachable Surfaces
  2. Smooth and Cleanable Surfaces
  3. No Collection Points
  4. Compatible Materials
  5. Preventing Contamination

Continue reading “Hygienic and Sanitary Design for Produce Farms”

Backflow Prevention for Produce Farms

Check valves are one of several ways to prevent backflow.

The intentional, directional, and reliable flow of water is important to ensure agricultural water is “safe and of adequate sanitary quality”.

This post provides information on the importance of backflow prevention and some common practices that help mitigate the risk of backflow. You can also view presentation slides and a recorded webinar on this topic that were provided for the May 2019 Produce Safety Alliance Educators Call.

PDF Download of this information: Backflow Prevention Factsheet

Continue reading “Backflow Prevention for Produce Farms”

Last Resort Farm Not Stalled by Dairy Barn Conversion

Silas Doyle-Burr, General Manager of Last Resort Farm

A PDF of this case study is available for download here.

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. They now grow 26 different crops split just about evenly retail vs. wholesale.

Continue reading “Last Resort Farm Not Stalled by Dairy Barn Conversion”

Summer Twilight Series – Event Schedule

Join us on our series of 2019 On-Farm Workshop for Commercial Vegetable and Berry Growers!

Attendance at these events is free for members of the Vermont Vegetable and Berry Growers Association. The cost is $10 per-person for non-members, payable on-site. Refreshments will be served. Membership in the VVBGA costs $55 per farm, per calendar year. The VVBGA works with University of Vermont Extension to deliver education and applied research for its growers.

A PDF of this schedule can be seen here.

Monday, June 10, 4-7 pm. Sam Mazza’s Farm Facebook Event

Wednesday, July 10, 4-7 pm. Intervale Community FarmFacebook Event

Wednesday, July 17, 4-7 pm. Root5 FarmFacebook Event

Thursday, August 1, 4-7 pm. Woods Market GardenFacebook Event

Thursday, August 8, 4-7 pm. Sunshine Valley Berry FarmFacebook Event

Tuesday, August 20, 4-7 pm. HeartLand FarmsFacebook Event

Wednesday, September 25, 3-6 pm. Mighty Food FarmFacebook Event

Wednesday, October 16, 3-6 pm. Deep Meadow FarmFacebook Event

Wednesday, November 6, 2-5 pm. Small Axe FarmFacebook Event

Read more

Staying Ahead in the Packshed: Postharvest Topics, Sources of Information, and Ideas from Growers

Last Fall we surveyed growers in the region about postharvest topics in preparation for a USDA NE SARE proposal. That proposal has been funded! Growers who responded assigned a high level of importance to aggregated postharvest knowledge (4.5/5.0, n=56) while indicating poor availability of the information (3.3/5.0, n=57). Several ideas for research topics were provided as well.

Continue reading “Staying Ahead in the Packshed: Postharvest Topics, Sources of Information, and Ideas from Growers”

Getting Started with a Growth Chamber

We’ve received a number of inquiries about building germination chambers so we have decided to provide some consolidated resources and guidance.

An important first step is to consider what the purpose of the chamber actually is.  There are a number of horticultural practices that benefit from dedicated, environmentally controlled spaces. These include germination, starting, propagation/transplanting, sprouting of tubers and rhizomes, and grafting. These all fall under the category of “growth chambers.”

Continue reading “Getting Started with a Growth Chamber”

Skip to toolbar