Fence view facing East
Fence view facing South
We planted living fences similar to European hedges as part of our silvopasture and keyline system. We have planted Washington hawthorn, honey and black locust, yellow poplar, hazelnut, and northern red oak trees along the keylines between pastures. We also plan to plant berry bushes and grapevines to expand the living fences to five-foot-wide swaths between pastures. Using trees as living fences improves and benefits the farm ecosystem on multiple levels.
Year developed: 2013
Years in service: eight
Costs: $100,000 (includes installing water lines in pastures)
Grant funding: USDA EQIP and CSP, Maryland DNR grants, and Maryland ACF tree donations
This is a very simple in field wash and pack set up primarily for head lettuce and other crops that require very minimal handling. It is a four wheeled wagon (running gear), with a 150-gallon wash tub, two packing platforms, a tool box for harvest supplies, and an open sided deck covered by a roof for finished product to be temporarily protected from the sun. It is a way to immediately remove some field heat from the crop without making excessive trips back and forth to the wash barn.
Year developed: 2014
Years in service: six
We would like to build a containment system to prevent totes from falling off the wagon in transport and that would also not interfere with the quick and ergonomic flow of the harvested product.
Our Daily Plan form helps to communicate the wider view of daily farm tasks to managers and workers, allowing coordination of time, tasks, tools, and helping hands. It is built off of each apprentice’s and manager’s weekly work plans, the weather forecast, daily updates, and more. Every employee receives a copy of the daily plan.
Year developed: 1990s
Years in service: 20+ years
We now use Excel to formulate our daily plans, but in the beginning it started out as a handwritten list. You can adapt the idea to your farm’s needs.
Cows grazing in the fall mix seeded into permanent pasture
Summer annual mix seeded into winter pasture with bale feeding
Cows grazing on the summer mix
Seeding the pasture
We use an old grain drill to no-till into our pastures for seeding fall mixes or summer annuals. Fall mixes include oats, rye, radishes, rapeseed, and crimson clover. We graze the sward close, then seed, and sometimes graze again to set back that perennial sod. There’s new seedling vigor with the annual forage, and it seems to re-invigorate and stimulate the old perennial stand after it rebounds from the close grazing. Summer mixes include corn, radish, turnip, and beans. This is typically done in pastures where there was winter feeding with hay that adds organic matter to the field. By no-till seeding we are continually building up the soil, instead of plowing to reestablish pastures, which degrades the land.
Year developed: 2006
Years in service: became serious about it four years ago
Costs: $60–80/acre (depending on the seed cost and the labor to do it)
Older model five-foot wide grain drill with three-pt hitch
A better grain drill could be used. Ours is an older, more conventional model. Or this could be done with no-till equipment.
Drip tape crank
Drip tape spool assembly
Row cover winder
This is a simple two-wheeled cart for holding poles and spools to more easily wind and unwind used row cover and drip tape. The cart is towed behind a four-wheeler, an ATV, or any other light vehicle with a simple tongue with pin-attachment. The cart makes it easier to deploy, retrieve, and store row cover and drip tape for future use. It was built by Roy Brubaker, founder of Village Acres Farm and Foodshed. We’re grateful for having it!
Year developed: 1990s
Years in service: 25+
Motorized winding. Locking down/latching the row cover rolls would keep them from bounding out of place when they are in transit. This could be accomplished with a bracket and bolt.
We grew thousands of onions and garlic plants and needed a way to hand plant them fast in bare ground. Accurate and uniform spacing was important for quick and precise weeding on five-foot-wide beds. The dibble roller was made for six-foot offset spacing, allowing us to fit 10% more plants in our bed than regular spacing.
The metal wheels (old wheelbarrow wheels, see photo) add the needed weight to push the dibbles in. By flipping the roller upside down, it can easily be transported around the farm.
Year developed: early 2000s
Years in service: 15–20
We’ve often thought it would be good to make the hole spacing adjustable, but keeping it simple always won out. If we were building up our soil quality, we would make the spacing eight inches. However, just increasing the spacing by two inches reduces the number of plants from 437 at six-inch spacing to 238 at eight-inch spacing, which can reduce the profit per square foot.
Pig pens where compost is made. Green container on the right is the compost turner.
Porch View Farm pasture
Using inspiration from Polyface Farms, we make compost with the help of our pigs. We deep bed our pig pens with free carbonaceous matter such as old straw, used horse bedding, saw dust, and wood chips. We add charcoal that we make from our silvopasture and sawmill operations to the bedding (it’s crushed into fine pieces by the pigs). We also feed the pigs charcoal with their rations. Red Wiggler worms, who showed up on their own, live in the bedding year round. We windrow the bedding when we clean out the pens and turn it with a tractor driven windrow turner. We may add more charcoal to the compost piles as we turn them. We have a compost brewer sprayer that we can use to make compost tea and apply it to the fields and pastures. The compost and biochar is also spread on the fields. This method reduces odor from our pigs and allows us to tighten the loop by turning the waste products of others into a valuable resource.
Year developed: 2009
Years in service: 12
Grant funding: Howard County Economic Development Grants and MARBIDCO matching grants
We’d like to develop easier access to the pig pens for dumping of bedding materials.
This harvest cart allows us to carry multiple harvest totes in and out of the field.
We’d like to thank Root 5 Farm for sharing their cart design. It helped inspire this design.
Year developed: 2019
Years in service: two
We have gone through a couple of iterations of how to fix the wheels to the frame. It could still use some work. We would also like to add a second rung to the frame, so that we could also carry seedling trays without them sliding underneath the existing rung. Lastly, we might use half-inch mesh or additional cross pieces underneath the mesh for extra stability.
We found that carrying 15,000–20,000 pounds of tomatoes through our high tunnels each year required a lot of bending, lifting, and balancing that was neither speedy or easy. Our high tunnel trolley system allows us to rapidly and easily harvest those same tomatoes and cucumbers. The equipment remains out of the way of any tractor work and crop management tasks.
We love this system! It has revolutionized our tomato and cucumber harvest.
Year developed: 2017–2018
Years in service: three
Costs:~$2500 per 4224-square-foot tunnel
For the first prototype, we built a big cart to hold lots of trays, but it was so cumbersome to move between rails and between houses that the benefits offered by more space was lost—less is more!
Our carts are made of steel tubing and angle iron; it might be worth spending more and having them fabricated at a machine shop in aluminum to make them lighter. We would also like to develop a rail extension that would allow us to roll the full cart right outside to the waiting pickup truck.