Monday, November 19, 2012

What's New at the Farm — Before the Ground Freezes Up

Pumpkin and Squash Seed Harvesting

The week before Thanksgiving finds the farm still buzzing with activity. Trying to get everything wrapped up before the ground freezes keeps us busy in the not-so-pleasant weather of November. Much of our time this week has also been directed toward the cucurbit (pumpkins and squash) seed-harvest.

A local farmer here in mid-Maine grows several squash and pumpkin varieties for us; here’s a shot of bins full of fruit being delivered to us prior to processing.
The fruits are loaded onto a hay elevator and dumped into our vine crop harvester. where they are crushed to release their seeds. Here’s a shot of the end of the vine harvester where the pulp comes out.
 At this point the seed has been extracted from the fruits and is being deposited underneath the rotating drum. What comes out the back are the fruit rinds. These are collected and made into compost, to be reapplied to feed another crop.
Once the seed depth has built up, we take the seed out of the collector on the vine seed harvester, for processing it in the coner.
This machine has rubber paddles inside, which, when injected with large amounts of water, gently wash the pulp from the seeds.
As you can see, it’s a wet job, with water going in every direction!
Here’s the business end of the coner and the washed seeds coming out.
The seed mixture is comprised of seeds, pulp, and a few rind pieces. All the seed is collected, whether it be good, plump seed or flat seed that isn’t good. It is all placed on our paddle dryer and dried down to where it can safely be stored whilst waiting for seed cleaning to begin.
Here’s the seed being agitated and dried. 
Once the seed is dried it goes into our controlled atmosphere storage.
After being cleaned on one or more of our seed cleaning machines, it gets a final inspection on a “Bean Table.” A bean table is a small table fitted out with a belt that carries seeds (originally beans; hence the name) along in front of a person, to be visually inspected. The small boxes on either side are for holding broken, dirty, or otherwise subprime seeds that are being taken out. The good seeds drop into a bucket and, when the batch is done, are sewn up and put back into seed storage.

And that wraps that up — well, 20-something varieties — and we’re done harvesting.
Aside from that, we’re trying to pull all the plastic from the fields that we can, before freeze-up. There may be warmer weather for pulling it in the spring, but that would be leaving one more job undone for the spring, and we’ve got enough to do that time of year. It’s nice to get it all pulled up before we’re done for the season — sort of a closing task to the season.
There are a lot of other projects we can do around the farm before winter, but I’m sure we won’t get to them all. There are a few trees that need to be taken down, and some limbs to be trimmed off. Getting as much equipment gone through and stored under cover is always a challenge. And we’re getting our hoophouses planted for our overwintering crops — we’ll have fresh succulent greens in March.
Spring is closer than we think!

Until next time,

11/16/2012 — Albion, Maine

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Johnny's Attends Tradeshows in New Hampshire & Maine

Johnny's Maine-based Territory Sales Rep, Chris Hillier, recently attended UNH's North Country Fruit & Vegetable Seminar & Trade Show, held in Whitefield, New Hampshire, on October 30th, and MOFGA's Farmer-to-Farmer Conference in Northport, Maine, from November 9th to 11th.

The North Country Fruit & Vegetable Seminar was held at the Mountain View Grand on the day Hurricane Sandy began to roll into New England. Due to the storm, unfortunately, some of the promotional materials we'd sent via UPS to the conference never made it there! Nevertheless, Chris Hillier was able to set up Johnny's booth with a selection of crops on display, as well as various useful informational handouts. Below are photos of our booth and some other shots from Chris of the conference.

A look at our booth – set up and ready to go!
Our pumpkins labeled and on display
Another look at our specialty pumpkins
Katsko Zintchenko, a home gardener from NH, won Johnny's door prize!
A view of the conference room, where the workshops took place
Workshops at the conference covered such topics as using cover crops to manage weeds, how to distinguish beneficial from harmful insects on your crops, and a discussion on growing crops in high tunnels. 

The following week, Chris headed to MOFGA's Farmer-to-Farmer Conference in Northport, Maine, November 9th-11th. Along with Chris, a member of our Contact Center, Dave, a Canadian Sales Team member, Randy, and Steve and Kelly from the Johnny's Research Farm also attended the conference from Johnny's.
Johnny's visits MOFA's Farmer to Farmer Conference
Our-Farmer-to-Farmer booth, all set up
Chris was able to bring a preview of Johnny's 2013 catalog to this event, which allowed customers at the show to see what we would be offering as of November 15th. Attendees also got to check out the brand new product images that were displayed on the backdrop of her tradeshow booth, and grab handouts on new items, as well as new growing tips and charts that will be debuting in the new catalog and at on November 15th.
Learn more about MOFGA's Farmer-to-Farmer Conference at >>

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Johnny's Is Sponsoring & Attending MOFGA's 2012 Farmer-to-Farmer Conference

Hope to See You There!

This Friday, November 9th, 2012, Johnny's Maine-based Territory Sales Rep, Chris Hillier, will be attending MOFGA's annual Farmer-to-Farmer Conference. This year's conference — which Johnny's is sponsoring as well — is being held at beautiful Point Lookout in Northport, Maine from Friday through Sunday.

According to MOFGA, the Farmer-to-Farmer Conference...

  • Is based on the idea that farmers learn best from their peers and other practitioners.
  • Features prominent and accessible university faculty, extension educators, and other agricultural professionals.
  • Features a unique 3-hour workshop session format, in which one half is dedicated to talks by both agricultural service professionals and farmers, and the other to a round table discussion intended to solicit and capitalize on the accumulated knowledge of all the farmers in attendance.
Chris, a regular at the conference for several years, is looking forward to its open format to connect with Maine growers, hear how their growing season went, and learn what they will need for a successful 2013 season.

This year, Johnny's will be raffling off a $100 Gift Certificate at our booth, providing a preview of our 2013 Catalog, and answering your growing questions. Be sure to look for us there, and stop by to say hello!

Get all the Conference Details today.

A look at the venue – Point Lookout in Northport, ME
Find out more at