Friday, May 18, 2012

Small Equipment Demos at Tuckaway Farm

On May 15th, NH territory sales rep Chris Hillier and I traveled to Tuckaway Farm in Lee, NH (Seacoast area) to do a presentation organized by NOFA NH called ‘Small Equipment Demonstrations for Vegetable Farmers - Part II’. We were not involved in Part I, which was centered around larger equipment. When we first got there around 12:30 p.m., we met owner Chuck Cox, who showed us to the plot where we would be building a demo tunnel. We got to work right away setting up a 12' x 28' caterpillar. By 3:30, we had it ready to show. 

We then set up the bender demo area with a picnic table we had brought from Maine. Since the weather was iffy, we assembled the hand tools and seeders on a hay wagon, so that we could quickly bring them in the barn in the case of a torrential downpour.

Around 4:30, people started showing up. There were probably around 35-40 attendees with and without umbrellas. As they made their way in, we had kind of a free-for-all with the hand tools, as they got to try them out in a weedy patch of the field and express which were their personal favorites and why. A little after 5:00 Ray Conner, the Beginner Organic Farmer Program Director from NOFA NH welcomed everyone, and got the show started.

Chris went first, giving a brief overview of all the hand tools and seeders, with a promise to answer any specific questions after. This was great because she gave a very quick, comprehensive overview of the lines, what is available, and what the products’ individual strengths are.

Then Chuck gave his presentation, which started with some of his favorite hand tools, including a stirrup hoe, an old auto-feed jab planter, and a Planet Jr. seeder. He then moved on to some of his innovations, like his fencing cart, his row markers, garlic dibble, and his low cost solution for homemade Hotkaps. He finished up by demonstrating a horse-drawn spring tine weeder, which is used to remove small weeds in established crops. As he says, “Just don’t look back.”

Chuck Cox
After that, everyone assembled on the hill for the caterpillar tunnel demo. I started by bending a 6 ft hoop for low tunnels, then a hoop used to make high tunnels. We then moved over to the tunnel plot. I spoke about what we had done this afternoon to get the tunnel to the state that it was in. I enlisted some help from the crowd to insert and connect the last bow, cut the protruding ridge pole off, and then skin and lace the tunnel. 

All the while, what started out as drizzle got more and more steady. By the end of the talk, we were pretty soggy

Presenting in the rain
After that Dorn Cox, who is a board member for the National Young Farmers Coalition, gave a brief invitation for everyone to check out their affiliated site, for innovations in tool designs.

Finally, we invited everyone inside the tunnel and drew names for the raffle.
Our raffle ticket winners
We intend to repeat this same talk on August 1st at Alchemy Gardens in Shrewsbury, VT. The talk will tentatively be held from 4:00 to 6:00 and will be presented through a collaboration of NOFA VT and RAFFL (Rutland Area Farm and Food Link)

Hope to see you there! 

Adam Lemieux 
Tools & Supplies Manager