UVM Extension in partnership with the VT Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets is hosting a FSMA Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training in Middlebury on March 19, 2019. More information is available at https://www.regonline.com/producesafetyalliancemiddlebury and below.Continue reading “FSMA PSA Training – Middlebury, VT – 3/19”
I am excited to share a new idea and am looking for your feedback and support! Today, I am releasing Episode 0 of the UVM Extension Ag Engineering Podcast! This is a short form audio segment on tools, tips, and techniques to improve the sustainability of your farm.
This is a trial episode to introduce the idea, and give you a feel for what to expect. It is 5 minutes in duration, but I expect future episodes will be 10-20 minute interviews with farmers talking about a specific piece of equipment or farming practice that has changed their farm for the better.
Have a listen, and let me know what you think! If you want to hear more or have a topic idea I’d love to hear it. You can either e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or enter your comments in this survey.
Update: The podcast has launched! learn more at go.uvm.edu/aep
A pdf of this blog post can be downloaded here.
Produce wash sinks and tanks on vegetable farms consist of several different styles, designs, sizes, and uses. The needs vary from farm to farm but some features to consider are highlighted here. Some common basins for washing vegetables could include the following.
- Kitchen sinks
- Utility Sinks
- Livestock watering tanks
- Sheep stock tank
- Rubbermaid stock tank
- Repurposed dairy milk bulk tanks
- Maple sap tanks
- Restaurant Sinks
- Double bay
- Triple bay
- With or without drainboards
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.
- Highlight video (1min)
- Overview of Last Resort Farm and the decisions behind building out this space (9min)
- The benefits, decision, and concerns of the build (5min)
- The details of the coolers instrumentation and controls (6min)
There are many options when it comes to constructing a walk-in cooler, cold room, or warm room for on-farm storage.
The main goals for construction of any temperature and humidity controlled space are:
- Insulate the walls to provide for efficiency temperature control against a different outside temperature (which may be an warmer inside space)
- Seal corners and seams to prevent air and rodent infiltration
- Protect framing and insulation with smooth, cleanable materials and vapor barrier to prevent moisture and condensation inside the walls.
The resources below should provide an overview of common cooler wall construction options. Continue reading “Cooler Construction Options – Walls and Panels”
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!
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.
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 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.”
Michael Kilpatrick is the host of the Thriving Farmer Podcast. “In the interviews, we focus on building farms that last, setting up your systems, knowing your customers, building your team, and treading that ever challenging work/family/life balance.”
“Whether you have been farming for years, you are a Homegrown Greenhorn, or you are starting to consider a career in agriculture… …there is something we can all do to Grow Our Farms.” Join John Suscovich and John Bishopp who discuss the personal, challenging, side of operating a farm business getting into the topics all farms think about, but dont always talk about.
Do you listen to another farming podcast that you’d like to recommend? Shoot us an e-mail to tell us about it!
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.
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).