Gadgets & Gizmos
CRAFT WNC Farmer Round Table
February 24th, 2016
Farmer Round Tables are open-discussion group conversations geared toward our farmer members about a specific topic, facilitated by one of our own CRAFT members. It’s a place to share ideas and experiences with advanced farming topics on a deeper level than we can get into at the CRAFT farm tours.
Last night’s WNC CRAFT winter roundtable focused on Gizmos and Gadgets and gave farmers a chance to talk about what kinds of tools, implements, and systems make life more manageable and sometimes more fun on the farm. Tom Elmore started out the night focusing on using tools that help the farmer reduce how much he or she abuses their body. He showed pictures of a load handler, which is essentially a sturdy canvas like plastic material that lines a truck bed, attached to a tailgate, that allows you to crank out materials and loads. This saves backs and time. A bed can be loaded with manure, gravel, or wood and all you have to do is crank the handle to off load. He has had his for over 10 years and it has worked great! Affordable too- $100!
His second favorite tool- a Logrite logging arch. This is essentially a transportation device for logs you are hauling for wood, which allows you to move them by hand without stressing your back and without needing to use a tractor. It can be attached to a hitch if desired.
This shifted into showing us his US Wood stove which he uses to heat his greenhouse for early tomatoes. This is outside the greenhouse and takes 21” logs. It heats hot air which is then forced into the greenhouse via a duct system. That’s why he needs all this wood! These are more affordable than heaters that heat water and transport that into a greenhouse. Available at Northern Tool.
A tool Tom does not have, but is next on his wish list, is a Ferris mower, which is a zero turn radius mower, walk behind that has the capacity to mow tall grasses and weeds. A final favorite is a back massager, Theracane, $33 at Banner in Arden. Even though he is using all these innovative tools to save his back, he still needs a massager!
Paul Littman from Ivy Creek Family Farm shared his gizmos and gadgets next. He has a self made double 55 gallon metal tank woodstove in his propagation house. One on the bottom holds the wood while the one mounted on top is the air exchange tank. He has these in his propagation house. He built a woodshed attached to the plastic prop house to house the stove, which heats significantly and would likely be too hot in a plastic house alone. It allows him to get +25 degrees from outside temperatures in a 65 ft. long greenhouse. He uses box fans to move air from the woodstove to the end of the house. He protects around the woodstove with tileboard, to insulate items, walls and areas near the very hot woodstove. Most of the expense is in the chimney, which is triple insulated pipe. The drums can be found free or cheaply, although they may have housed materials that will need to be burned off and vented prior to consistent use.
Paul then took us through his fertigation system with a Dosetron filtration device, which feeds liquid seaweed to seedlings. He loves the Johnny’s Watering can with the long arm to reach seedlings to water by hand if needed. He installed a hose trolley system out of clothesline materials to allow easy movement of hoses in the greenhouse. The clothesline is at or above head level and has rollers on it which are attached to the hoses for easy manuvering.
Outside his greenhouse, he has a low bench for hardening off transplants. He has hoops every 5 feet which he can cover with remay and then plastic at night or if there is rain. Several farmers suggested shade cloth as a way to cover it that was easier to manage, allowed some rain protection and also reduced the need to cover and uncover if the sun came out and it got warm. Some keep the plastic on, but cinch the sides up a bit to allow ventilation but also protection from possible rain.
A few other farmers shared pictures and devices, such as a transplanter, germination chamber, spader, stock fencing for trellising, washstand organization and systems, and harvesting tubs and types, plus where to source all of these. It was a great time for sharing ideas and what works best for some and not for others. We all came away better informed and the wiser for it! Plus, Thatchmore Farm’s Merlot was amazing! Thanks Tom and Paul!
Now is the time to join CRAFT for 2016! WNC CRAFT is a year-round farmer training collaborative that offers farmers, farm workers and aspiring farmers networking and learning opportunities. For more information or to join, click here. Or contact Cameron Farlow, Organic Growers School Farmer Programs Coordinator at 828.338.9465 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Cameron Farlow is the Farmer Programs Director.She grew up in Greensboro, NC with dairy farming in her blood, and has made her home in Western North Carolina. After earning her undergraduate degrees from UNC – Chapel Hill in Anthropology and Geography in 2006, Cameron dove headfirst into the realm of sustainable agriculture and local food systems, and later completed her Master’s Degree in Appalachian Studies and Sustainable Development from Appalachian State University in May 2011. Gaining as much experience as she could she worked with several other regional nonprofits in the realms of farmland preservation, food security, farm to university, and land access for farmers. She came on board with OGS in April 2012. When she isn’t visiting farms all around this end of the state as Farmer Programs coordinator you can usually find her digging in her garden or adventuring alongside her husband Walker, the farm manager at Hickory Nut Gap Farm.