There are 2 main bottlenecks on most farms
Weeding and Harvest
A bottleneck is an activity that restricts all the other activities on your farm.
Farmers spend so much time on these tasks that they don’t have the time to other important farming things like trellising, office work, maintenance, checking in with their staff.
Or they have to work into the evening and throughout the weekend to get them done,
This is not to say that weeding or harvesting are not valuable and essential for your farm to keep running.
But if you could do these tasks in less time, you would be able to achieve more on your farm.
So, how do you overcome farm bottlenecks?
Many farmers jump right away to TOOLS and TRACTORS!!!
And yes, tools and tractors and all kinds of gear can improve your work and possible reduce the time it takes to do that.
But I actually think that tools and tractors should be the second part of the solution.
The first part is to improve your systems.
Your systems are the way that you do tasks and that you train your team to do these tasks.
This course is about - designing systems for your harvest mornings and your wash station to get more effective, efficient, and ergonomic.
p.s. I know I've mentioned weeding above, but we’re going to leave the weeding systems aside for this course. This course is all about harvest.
photo: Sharif Mirshak
What is included with this course
- The course is Live on January 19
- The course will be recorded and you can watch it whenever you want!
- Spreadsheets & templates to use on your farm
Here is the outline as it stands for the course.
- Harvest Principles
- Harvest efficiency
- Harvest effectiveness
- Harvest ergonomics
- The basic tools
- Harvest numbers
- Daily schedules
- Weekly schedules
- How to manage for fluctuations in the plan
- Record Keeping
- Working with a team
- Train your team
- Create and integrate managers for specific crops.
- Getting your team to produce consistent bunches more quickly while maintaining a good vibe on the team
- How to organize and assign harvest tasks.
- How many team members per crop on harvest day? Harvest in teams more or as individuals?
- Wash-pack systems
- Labeling - when it's necessary, when it's overkill
- Organising your cold room/cooler
- Wrapping it up
A Sampling Of Harvest Design Dreams & Requests
As I mentioned above, I'm building this course in part based on what you tell me that you want.
Here are a couple answers I got ..
“I would love for you to touch on ergonomics and body mechanics during harvest, as well as efficiency of motion for moving your hands, your bin, the products, etc. Also most efficient ways to label crops + totes - thanks!”
These are some great topics to include in the workshop.
The harvest design course will definitely touch on these!
And I especially love talking about labels.
“Harvest design for cut flower farms”
I wish I could go real deep on flower details but I have limited flower harvest experience.
But most Harvest Principles are pretty similar whether harvesting flowers or vegetables.
One of my early harvest influences was a May 2006 article in Growing For Market called Harvesting Techniques Can Improve Efficiency. The article was written by Pamela and Frank Arnosky of Texas Specialty Cut Flowers. The article only focused on their flower harvest systems. And yet it was all relevant to running a vegetable harvest team.
So, there will still be a lot for flower farmers to learn in this course, even it it doesn’t specifically focus on flowers.
Meet Your Harvest Systems Guide
Hey there, I’m Dan Brisebois
Farmer by day, spreadsheet maniac by early morning. (Asleep by night)
On a continual quest to keep farm systems simple and give farmers the tools to be able to keep farming.
I want to see soil and seed stewards across the landscape. I think it’s the best way that we can keep communities rooted in the land.
The goal of my courses and workshops is bring you systems and spreadsheets to better manage your farm so that you can keep farming!
Here’s are some facts about where I farm
Tourne-Sol co-operative farm is in Les Cèdres,Québec (that’s in Canada)
Tourne-Sol is a play on the French tournesol which means sunflower. The play on words is that it also means turn the soil.
The farm runs as a workers co-op (I’m one of the founding members)
In 2005 we were 5 coop members. Now we have 9 co-op members + 10 non co-op members
Non coop members can become members over time
- 7 acres of organic vegetables
- 1 acre of organic seeds
- 4+ acres in full year cover crops in our rotation cycle
- There are also a lot of flowers in our fields
In 2005, we had 110 CSA members and 2 farmers markets. Now, we’ve phased out markets and have 500 weekly CSA baskets
In 2005, seed sales were $700. These days we sell more seeds than vegetables - we have an online seed store and seed racks in 150+ stores
This is what the farm looks like now, it is ever changing