Farm Gadgets & Gizmos
Facilitated by Ben McCann of Goldfinch Gardens & Alex Brown of Full Sun Farm
For our final round table we shared our favorite & most loved labor saving devices, from homemade tools or adaptations to trusty stand-bys to this years newest discoveries. It’s a show-and-tell farmer style. Folks brought pictures, video and sometimes the actual gizmo!
Farmer Round Tables are open-discussion group conversations geared toward our farmers about a specific topic, facilitated by one of our own CRAFT members. It’s a place to share ideas and experiences on a deeper level than we can get into at the CRAFT farm tours.
Ben & Alex began by pointing out that tools help save time, labor and/or our backs. But, not all tools work for everybody. When you’re evaluating tools it’s important to think about what is right for your farm systems and soil types. Sometimes one tool will guide your systems. Is the new tool adjustable or will it fit within those parameters. For example Alex explained that at Full Sun Farm their rotary spader dictates everything on their cultivators, transplanters, and other tractor tools because it sets the bed size. Finding machines that work together is paramount.
Check out some of the gadgets and gizmos that made an appearance that night!
1. 26 gallon sprayer from Northern Tool – you can mount to pallet, pick it up with the fork of tractor and spray fertilizer while driving the tractor. It can plug into the tractor’s battery and has 50 ft hose providing good coverage over 3 beds at a time. Best for foliar spray – as opposed to a backpack sprayer. Can also use it to water in transplants if you’re planting by hand!
2. Electric converted Allis-Chalmers “G” cultivator
4. Potato digger Chechi SP50V – this machine is a little more efficient than a potato plow, but more expensive. However it saves a lot of time because it gets all the potatoes the time, with a potato plow you have to make multiple passes over a bed. It can also be use it to undercut garlic, onions: picture in full sun folder
5. Drag setter – old timey tobacco planter tool – precursor to water wheel, they still use it to plant potatoes. You can find one typically for $100 or less on old tobacco farms. If you’re not quite ready to move to a water wheel transplanter this is a step up from hand planting. Can also be used to plant potatoes.
6. Black plastic crates – cost $1 from Van-Wingerden, and GO grocery has collapsible ones for $1. Good for storing winter storage crops, or hauling produce.
7. Basket Weeder – for getting rid of small weeds quickly
8. Water-wheel Transplanter: streamlines planting process. Cooperative Extension has one that can be rented now.
9. Wheel hoe – Our farmers tend to like Valley Oak brand versions better than the wooden ones available through Johnny’s Seeds because they are more durable.
10. Multi-burner Flame weeder – Red Dragon is a recommended brand
11. Jang Precision Seeder – although it has a learning curve once you’ve figured it out a accurate seeder.
13. And last but certainly not least, the Theracane Therapeutic Massager!
Thank you all for sharing your well researched farm gadgets and gizmos, thanks to Ben McCann & Alex Brown for helping facilitate such an enlightening & needed discussion, and thanks to Carolina Farm Credit for welcoming us into their meeting space. Until next time!
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.