Grant Award: $6,000 —Top-Lift Carrot and Beet Harvester
Clem has purchased a unique piece of specialty harvesting equipment—a Scott Viner Top-Lift Carrot/Beet Harvester. This tractor-drawn implement undercuts a row of root crops, lifts them out of the ground by grabbing their tops with rotating belts, and drops them onto a conveyor belt that deposits them into bins.
This implement allows Clem’s planned production level of carrots, beets, and parsnips to increase production from 25,000 lbs. to 55,000 lbs. in 2017.
Local wholesale markets that favor local and/or organic produce have considerable unmet demand for these crops, but because larger farms in other regions such as California use mechanization to reduce costs, locally grown root crops can be expensive. With this equipment, Clem’s production costs will be reduced, allowing the product to be priced more competitively.
“These foods will become more available and accessible to locally conscious consumers in the region and throughout the state,” said Clem. He is labeling his products with personalized labels that display the farm business name, logo and contact information, USDA Certified Organic logo, and a Appalachian Grown logo.
In addition to hosting a class from Brevard College, Clem is working closely with his county Extension Director to plan educational workshops on a number of topics, showing others how he approaches farming in unique ways. He hopes to demonstrate that opportunities are available in specialized production for wholesales markets.
Clem is currently leasing the land, which was used for tobacco farming from 1996 to 2006. He hopes the income from this project will help him in time to purchase the property.