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  • Safely Dispensing Sanitizers
    Sanitizers used for treating post-harvest agricultural water on produce farms often come in 2.5, 5, or 10 gallon totes. These totes can be cumbersome to pour from resulting in splashing and spilling. These chemicals are also shipped in concentrations that can cause injury. Here are some simple ways of increasing the safety and accuracy of […]
  • Shedding Some Light in the Shed – Lighting for Indoor Work on the Farm
    As the days shorten and we turn the clocks back, it may be a great time to think about installing or improving lights in some of our indoor spaces. Maybe you could use a bit more light to see the drill size marking in the workshop. Or, perhaps, you’d like to be able to sort […]
  • Giving a Dairy Barn New Life at New Leaf Organics
    A video version of this case study is available here and a printable PDF is available here. Jill Kopel owns and operates New Leaf Organics in Bristol, Vermont and has over 19 years of farming experience. After many years of growing crops and growing the business she made the decision to invest significantly in her […]
  • Project Planning for Postharvest Efficiency, Profitability & Food Safety (Free 8-Part Packshed Webinar)
    The UVM Extension Produce Safety Team has developed a video series focused on postharvest upgrades for your farm. Whether your project is organizing a relatively simple outside wash station or building a full packshed from scratch, we share the principles and practice with examples to help you make the most of it. An outline of […]
  • The Ag Engineering Podcast
    Where we talk tools, tips and techniques to improve the sustainability of your farm Andy was awarded a 2019 Northeast SARE Grant to produce The Ag Engineering Podcast. In this podcast, we share tools, tips and techniques to improve sustainability on your farm. It was launched in December 2019. This podcast features short-format, easy to […]
  • Safe and Efficient Drying and Curing of CBD Hemp
    UVM Extension Agricultural Engineering, Resource Innovation Institute, Efficiency Vermont, and VT Division of Fire Safety recently teamed up to provide a webinar as part of the UVM Extension NW Crops and Soils Team Hemp and UVM Extension New Farmer Project series. This session focused on safely and efficiently drying and curing hemp to support customer […]
  • Washing Machine Greens Spinners: Cleaning Tips
    Washing machine greens spinners are often used for drying greens on small farms. They do require attention to cleaning and maintenance in order to keep them in sanitary working condition. This blog post highlights some tips to cleaning your greens spinner and provides links to six videos that focus on how to best clean these […]
  • Spray Tables for Produce Farms
    If we apply the principles of hygienic design to a spray table it becomes clear that we should think about the cleanability of the materials and the assembly while also thinking about how the materials will hold up over time with repeated use.
  • Drains for Produce Farms
    This guide provides background on planning for drains and drainage from produce wash and pack areas. Direct drains, floor and spot drains, and trench and gutter drains are discussed. A construction drawing for a trench drain is also provided. Related posts: Backflow Prevention for Produce Farms Floor Design for Vegetable Wash, Pack and Storage Areas […]
  • A Guide to Cleaning, Sanitizing, and Disinfecting for Produce Farms
    This is a guide to understanding the differences between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting. It is focused on produce farms and is motivated by current concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. Related posts: Considerations for Fruit and Vegetable Growers Related to Coronavirus & COVID-19 Hygienic and Sanitary Design for Produce Farms Ag Engineering Downloadable PDF Resources Greens […]
  • Planning an Efficient and Safe Wash/Pack Area
    By Chris Callahan, Hans Estrin, and Andy Chamberlin Summary Efficiency and food safety are integral parts of running a profitable and viable farm, producing high-quality produce, and retaining valuable employees. This integration should start with a vision in the planning stage of all postharvest projects.  Related posts: The BarnHouse: Optimized for Modern Day Vegetable Farming […]
  • Across The Fence: Mean Green(s) Washing Machine (TV Segment on Greens Spinners)
    UVM Extension’s own television program Across The Fence did a segment on a project we’ve been working on related to greens spinners. You can watch the video clip here explaining why small farms are making use of washing machines as greens spinners and what we are doing to help make them more feasible. Related posts: […]
  • Washing Machine Greens Spinners: Shopping Advice
    This blog post is for those using or considering a converted washing machine as greens spinner.  Background For background information on several different types of greens spinners and general thoughts on using washing machine conversions see this blog post.  Shopping Tips There are a few things to consider when shopping for a washing machine to […]
  • Ag Engineering Downloadable PDF Resources
    All of our resources are available here on this blog. However, if you are looking for a printed handout, here is a list. These are all of the PDF documents that we share during workshops, meetings, and presentations. All links will open the PDF in a new tab. Related posts: Hygienic and Sanitary Design for […]
  • Greens Washline from China
    With innovative tools becoming more available for salad greens production from field prep through harvest, mixed greens are becoming more attractive for farmers. Postharvest handling and wash/pack still causes a bottleneck for many farms. Today we share some knowledge on a piece of equipment recently adopted at Jericho Settlers Farm in Jericho, VT. This Greens […]
  • 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 […]
  • All About Alliums – Twilight Meeting Video Recording
    Last summer we had a twilight meeting all about Alliums at High Meadows Farm on July 12th, 2018. Related posts: All About Alliums – Twilight Meeting Summer Twilight Series – Event Schedule 2013 VVBGA Annual Meeting Local Ingredients for Local Brewers Last Resort Farm Not Stalled by Dairy Barn Conversion
  • Last Resort Farm Not Stalled by Dairy Barn Conversion
    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 […]
  • 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. […]
  • Launching of The Ag Engineering Podcast?!
    Hello friends and farmers! 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 […]
  • Vegetable Wash Sinks, Tanks, Tubs and Basins: Upgrades for Efficiency and Ergonomics
    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 […]
  • 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 […]
  • Cooler Construction Options – Walls and Panels
    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 […]
  • 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. […]
  • 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. […]
  • 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 […]
  • Hanging Hoses
    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. Investing in a hose hanger, hose reel or a trolley can help keep the hose […]
  • Bins, Buckets, Baskets & Totes
    So you’re starting to farm, or scaling up your production. You hear talk about produce 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 […]
  • 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 […]
  • 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 […]
  • Greens Spinners for Farm Use
    Download the PDF Fact Sheet Here! Introduction An important factor in growing and selling high-quality salad greens is being able to efficiently wash, cool, and dry the product. The drying step is commonly done using centrifugal force in a spinner.  The water is spun off of the greens through a filter basket or other porous […]
  • Post Harvest Handling & Storage for Small Farms
    This presentation was given by Chris Callahan from at the Great Lakes Expo in Grand Rapids Michigan in December 2017. He discusses the differences between fruit and vegetable storage needs, finish surfaces for wash/pack areas or coolers as well as temperature and humidity controls.   A frequently asked question we get is about vapor barrier […]
  • The AZS Rinse Conveyor at Picadilly Farm
    Picadilly Farm is owned and operated by Jenny and Bruce Wooster since 2006. Their farm is located in the South East Corner of New Hampshire in Winchester and has about 30 acres in production. They provide fresh produce to over 1,000 families through CSA shares spread across New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts. Bruce reached out […]
  • Innovation in Small Scale Vegetable Washing Equipment
    What’s new in Ag tech? Well, one thing that we’ve recently discovered is a rinse conveyor. Specifically designed for the small-scale farm who wants to graduate from hand washing to something a little more automated that can really crank up the pounds of washed vegetables for market. This machine is made by AZS, an equipment manufacturing […]
  • The AZS Rinse Conveyor at Native Son Farm
    Native Son farm is a small diversified vegetable farm in Tupelo Mississippi, who had been washing vegetables by hand and started looking at automated wash lines. With zero experience on automated washing, he began first researching the common barrel washer, reading reviews, and watching videos online. Will Reed reached out to Deerfield Supply out Kentucky […]
  • The AZS Rinse Conveyor at Sassafras Creek Farm
    I had the opportunity to see an innovative piece of equipment designed for washing vegetables, and I think it might be a look into the future of improved food safety on many small-scale vegetable farms. Related posts: Upcoming Produce Safety Training (November 6-7, 2017)
  • NOFA-NY Winter Greens Workshop – Postharvest, Wash and Pack, Produce Safety
    Chris partnered with Robert Hadad (Cornell), Judd Reid (Cornell), Paul and Sandy Arnold (Pleasant Valley Farm, Argyle, NY) to deliver a workshop hosted by NOFA-NY at the Winter Conference in Saratoga Springs, NY on January 18, 2018. Slides: Winter GreensWash/Pack Shed Efficiency & Food Safety Considerations. (PDF) Handouts: The “Ideal” Wash and Pack Facility Layout […]
  • Upcoming Produce Safety Training (November 6-7, 2017)
    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 […]
  • Spring Cleaning – Farm Cooler Checklist
    Whether your winter storage rooms are getting bare or you are making the transition from sweet corn to potatoes, what better time to give your cooler a once over than right now? Download the Farm Cooler Checklist to help guide your walk-through. Highlights include: Cleaning, sanitizing and inspection of surfaces Checking the envelope Inspecting refrigeration […]
  • Rats (and other rodents)
    Download the PDF version of this page here! When considering storage rooms, wash and pack sheds with growers there is one topic that is sure to strike a nerve: RODENTS. This document is intended to provide summary information about measures you can take to reduce crop losses from these pests.  It is the result of […]
  • Finish Surfaces for Produce and Food Areas
    Download an updated PDF version of this information here! Smooth and cleanable surfaces are an important aspect of areas where produce is washed, packed, stored and processed.  Many farms are investing in renovations and expansions of these areas and are seeking materials to meet this “finish surface” need regardless of specific regulation.  Meanwhile, food processing […]
  • New Crop Storage Planning Tool
    I have been toying with an Excel-based crop storage planning tool for several years.  I finally have it at point where I want to make it available to others and start collecting feedback for improvement.  You can download the tool here, and instructions are available in the tool and at this page.  Enjoy and please […]
  • Processing Mature Green Tomatoes
    No related posts.
  • DIY Auto-fill Humidifier
    I recently built a humidifier I think others might find useful.  This could be useful for cheese aging, meat curing, and storage of winter crops all of which require maintaining specific temperature and humidity. The details are available on the Tool Wiki at FarmHack.  Take a look, and let me know if you find ways […]
  • 2013 UVM Mobile Hops Harvester Summary
    The UVM Mobile Hops Harvester visited six hop yards this year, harvesting approximately 400 dry pounds of hops, over a 4 week period plus harvesting the UVM Extension NW Crops and Soils Team’s research hop yard. This harvester, developed as a result of a Northeast Hops Alliance, UVM Extension, VT Agency of Ag Food and […]
  • Practical Produce Safety – April 11, 2013 – Vergennes/Monkton
    Had a great time talking about all the ways we can get sick from produce related pathogens yesterday.  The good news is that the bulk of the workshop was focused on ways to mitigate the risks. The Practical Produce Safety workshop series coordinated by Ginger Nickerson (UVM Center for Sustainable Agriculture) and Hans Estrin (UVM […]
  • Wash and Pack Stations
    This is a great video overview from the Cornell Cooperative Extension Small Farms Project with helpful guidance on wash and pack station layout. More on the Cornell Small Farm Project can be found here.  This video was part of a NE-SARE funded project. Some highlights: Cover – prepare for all conditions; rain, wind, cold, heat […]
  • 2013 VVBGA Annual Meeting
    I had the pleasure of joining the Vermont Vegetable and Berry Grower’s Association yesterday for their annual meeting.  This event is packed with presentations ranging from the latest pests to farmer outreach in distant lands. My talk was on crop storage, and it was a great chance to summarize my recent work in this area.  […]
  • Remote Data Monitoring – 1st Install at Pete’s Greens
    As an engineer, I love data.  It turns out farmers do also.  At least, Pete Johnson and Isaac Jacobs at Pete’s Greens in Craftsbury, VT do. “Is it working yet?” Isaac asks as I put the finishing touches on the remote data monitoring system we have been installing in the four zone drive-in cooler. “Just […]
  • UC Davis Guide: Small-Scale Postharvest Practices
    This guide from the UC Davis Postharvest Center is jam packed with information relevant to VT’s small-scale growers seeking improved post-harvest handling and processing. I think it is a nice companion to the New England Vegetable Management Guide and USDA’s Handbook 66. The UC Davis Postharvest Center has a wonderful on-line library with many other […]
  • VPR Series on VT Food – All Week on Morning Edition
    Visit VPR’s site to listen to archived episodes. “VPR looks at the economic impact of food production in Vermont in the special series The Business of Food. All this week during Morning Edition, we’re looking at the expansion of farmer’s markets from a summer calendar schedule to a year-round operation, how community planners in southeastern […]
  • Food Storage Survey Results
    Thanks to all of those who took the time to respond to the food storage survey several weeks back.  The information you provided has been really helpful.  A clear desire for additional programming in this area was expressed, and I’ll be working to develop that. Here are the survey result highlights: 82% of respondents expressed […]
  • Efficiency Vermont Incentives for Agriculture
          Are you considering any equipment upgrades in the near future.  Check Efficiency Vermont’s webpage to research available technologies and to see if any of their many incentives apply to you. They have a set of rebates specific to agriculture and some for commercial refrigeration which may apply to folks with refrigerated storage on […]
  • USDA Handbook 66 – Fruit, Berry and Vegetable Storage Guide
    The USDA regularly produces its Agricultural Handbook 66 – “The Commercial Storage of Fruits, Vegetables, and Florist and Nursery Stocks” to help guide long term storage of these products. The handbook is dense with info on optimal storage conditions for everything from Jerusalem Artichokes to Watercress. Each crop is given a brief overview which summarizes […]
  • Food Storage Survey
    I’m collecting information on Vermont’s commercial food storage practices.  This is most commonly a walk-in cooler or freezer on the farm or at a food hub, but there is room in the survey to tell me all about the other ways you store food.  The purpose of the survey is to provide a baseline against […]
  • Food System Energy Use
    Thanks to Eric Garza (UVM RSENR) for putting me onto this dense and fascinating report that summarizes the energy use in our food system. I was surprised to learn the per capita energy use in our food system increased significantly from 1997 to 2002. From the report; “Energy is an important input in growing, processing, […]
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