Table of

Return to Main Page


Production Models & Methods

Harvest, Handling, and Packing

Adam and Laura harvest most produce within the 24 hours prior to delivery. Most produce is harvested by hand, with the exception of some roots and potatoes which can be harvested with a root digger (Figure 33) or potato digger (Figure 34). They designate Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of each week during the growing season as harvest days. They use a daily harvest schedule that specifies the order in which crops are harvested, according to the crops’ respiration rates and whether the crops should be handled wet or dry.

root digger

root digger closeup
Figure 33: Loon Organics' root digger, shown in full view (top) and close up (bottom).

potato digger
Figure 34: Loon Organics' potato digger.
Educator’s Perspective:
Resource Tip

Post-Harvest Handling and Packing

North Carolina State University has a series of fact sheets for post-harvest handling of specific crops and post-harvest cooling and handling technologies.

UC-Davis also has a comprehensive series of crop-specific post-harvest technology fact sheets.

A manual called Wholesale Success: A Farmer’s Guide to Selling, Post Harvest Handling, and Packing Produce includes comprehensive sections on issues such as Building Relationships with Buyers, Food Safety, and Calculating Return on Investment.

It also includes 63 crop profiles that give specific harvesting, cooling, storage, and packing information on most of the fruits and vegetables grown in the Midwest.

Requirements surrounding food safety plans have been hotly debated. Beginning farmers should educate themselves on current and proposed regulations by reading publications such as Food Safety on the Farm: Federal Programs and Selected Proposals.

Back to top of this page

Laura and Adam and their crew bring the produce from the field to the lean-to area for post-harvest handling. They use dunk tanks (Figure 35), cold well water, sprayer hoses (Figure 36), and/or a pressure washer to wash and cool produce before storage and a washing machine for spin-drying the baby greens. Tsunami 100, an EPA-registered, peroxyacetic acid-based, antimicrobial water additive, is used in the processing water. Laura and Adam store produce needing refrigeration in their large cooler. Shelves outside of the large cooler are used to hold tomatoes for ripening and storage.

Figure 35: Washing cauliflower after harvest.
Figure 36: Post-harvest spraying of beets.

CSA shares are pre-packed in ¾-bushel boxes and refrigerated on the farm until they are picked up by members or delivered to drop-off sites. In 2010, Laura and Adam plan to continue investing in upgrades to their packing area, adding more concrete flooring, drainage, a hand-washing sink with an instant hot water heater, and other smaller amenities.

Back to top of this page

Go on to next page >>