Wednesday, September 26, 2012

What's New at the Farm

Harvesting Tomatoes for Seed

After a hiatus of several weeks I’m back to writing about what’s new at the farm. The cool and sometimes crisp mornings signal that the end of another growing season is fast approaching. The days are noticeably shorter, and there’s less heat in the sun than there was. On a brighter note, the humidity has dropped off and it’s great working weather.

We started harvesting tomatoes for seed this week, so I thought I’d share some photos of the process:
We’re harvesting Brandywine tomato here. This is about a quarter of an acre in this field; we have another three-quarters of an acre, too. Our “Vine Harvester” is on the right side, hooked up to our Farmall 200. This machine separates the tomato seed and juice from the majority of the pulp. We only use this machine on larger seed productions, as it’s harder to clean than our smaller unit. The first stage of the seed harvest involves picking the tomatoes, filling up all the buckets, and starting up the seed separator.

 As the tomatoes are dumped into the hopper, they are crushed to release the seeds and the juice. Not ground, for we don’t want to damage the seeds, but rather crushed. The crushed fruit are then dumped into the rotating drum, where the separation takes place.

 Once the slurry is collected at the bottom of the machine...

 ... it is placed into barrels to ferment overnight.

 The next morning it looks like this.
The gel coating around the seed has broken down and the seed is ready for sluicing.
The sluice is filled with water and the slurry mixture is added. The good seed sinks to the bottom while the skins, dirt, pulp, and immature seeds float off. Here’s a shot of the good seed waiting to be removed from the sluice.
Once the seed has been taken out of the sluice it goes into one of our seed dryers, and then into our controlled atmosphere storage to await milling. In October, it will be cleaned further and then sent to our warehouse for storage and packaging.

Working for a seed company like we do, we get to see what we call seed-to-seed. We start the seed in the greenhouse, grow the plants, and harvest the seeds from these plants. When we grow these crops again, we’ll use seed that was grown here previously—a full circle, you might say.
Until next time, I’ll be in the field. Enjoy the changing of the seasons

09/17/2012—Albion, Maine

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Johnny's Attends the 2012 Growing Power Conference

Johnny's Maine-based Territory Sales Rep, Ken Fine, recently attended the 2012 National-International Urban & Small Farm Conference in Milwaukee, WI on September 7- 9.
Growing Power first hosted this event in 2010. Nearly 1500 participants gathered at the Milwaukee State Fair to share ideas for building healthy and resilient community-based food systems. The conference was diverse in every sense. It included farmers, aspiring farmers, renewable energy experts, urban planners, corporate executives, politicians, academics, chefs, microbiologists, and people from countless other walks of life. (
Growing Power offered tradeshow participants and attendees tours of their various farm sites throughout the Milwaukee metropolitan area. There were 5 different tours of these facilities, based on specific growing interest.

Ken Fine had a booth set up at the conference, #302, where he offered tradeshow attendees a shot at winning a $100 Johnny’s gift certificate, provided growing advice and spoke about Johnny’s newest products. Ken also presented a workshop on "Strategies for Growing Produce on Any Scale-Session" Saturday, September 8th.
You can learn more about the Growing Power conference at their website >>>
Learn more about the Conference at: Learn more about the Conference at: Learn more about the Conference at: http://www.growingpowerfarmconferenc
The first day at the Growing Power Conference

Trade show participants at the Johnny's booth

Johnny's customers Barry Colley and Patrick Faulkner at the booth

Learn more about the Conference at: Learn more about the Conference at: Learn more about the Conference at: http://www.growingpowerfarmconference.