IOWA CITY, Iowa — For vegetable farmers, using the right tool can make all the difference when it comes to efficiency, profit and even physical health. But tools that work well on larger-scale farms might not make sense for a smaller operation.
With all the tools available on the market, another challenge for small-scale vegetable producers is knowing what all the options are, and whether those tools work in their specific farming system.
Jason Grimm, of Grimm Family Farm, and Scott Koepke, of Grow Johnson County, want to help farmers with this dilemma. They will showcase a wide range of tools and implements at a Practical Farmers of Iowa and Grow Johnson County field day they are hosting on Sunday, Nov. 5, from 2-5 p.m., in Iowa City (4811 Melrose Ave., at the Johnson County Poor Farm on the west edge of town). The event – “Hand Tools and Implements for Small Vegetable Farms” – is free to attend, and is sponsored by Iowa Farmers Union.
Jason and Scott will show guests various hand tools and small implements, including wheel hoes, stirrup hoes, a BCS tiller and more – and attendees will have an opportunity to try them all out. Jason will show how he sharpens tools and adjusts the raised-bed maker, and will discuss how the farm manages irrigation water pressure from a city hydrant. Guests are also invited to explore the farm’s Cool-Bot, which is used for cold storage.
Other topics Jason and Scott will address include labor efficiency; making raised beds using a plastic mulch layer; BCS and Troy-Bilt tillers; power harrows; and plastic mulch versus ground-cover fabric.
“We hope guests will take away knowledge of tool options for small vegetable operations, including self-fabricated tools and implements anyone can build,” says Jason, who raises produce, pastured poultry and dry beans at Grimm Family Farm near Williamsburg, and is also the food system planner with Iowa Valley RC&D.
Grow Johnson County is an organization with two missions: to reduce food insecurity in Johnson County, and to serve as an educational farm for new growers. Produce from the farm’s 4 acres is distributed to food pantries, food banks and meal sites in the greater Johnson County community. In 2016, 12,000 pounds of produce were donated to the community.
From U.S. 218: Take Exit 93 and head west on Melrose Avenue; the farm is on the south side of the road in 0.3 mile. Follow signs for Grow Johnson County.
Practical Farmers’ 2017 field days are supported by several sustaining and major sponsors, including: Ag Ventures Alliance; Albert Lea Seed; Center for Rural Affairs; Fertrell; Gandy Cover Crop Seeders; Grain Millers, Inc.; Iowa Beef Center; Iowa Environmental Council; Iowa State University Department of Agronomy; Iowa Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE); ISU Extension and Outreach; La Crosse Forage and Turf Seed; Lemken; Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture; MOSA Organic Certification; Natural Resources Defense Council; Organic Valley / Organic Prairie; Riverside Feeds, LLC; The Scoular Company; Trees Forever; Unilever; University of Iowa College of Public Health (I-CASH); Upper Iowa Audubon Society; USDA: Natural Resources Conservation Service; Wallace Chair for Sustainable Agriculture; and Welter Seed & Honey Co.
— Practical Farmers of Iowa
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