Joe Evans, Paper Crane Farm
Season Extension/Specialty Crop: Root Crop Production
Grant Award: $6,000
Joe purchased a specialty tillage implement, called an articulating spader, that has enabled him to expand his root crop production to boost winter sales. This expansion allows him to farm full-time rather than seek off-season temporary work.
Spaders prepare the garden beds for planting in a gentle manner, preserving the integrity of soil structure as well as preventing or shattering hard pan, in which rototillers often create. In the heavy rains of spring 2013, Joe lost a significant portion of his carrot crops to rotting because of the hard pan’s inability to drain.
Spaders work like a hand shovel on a crank shaft. Each spade takes a turn entering the soil, lessening the amount of HP required of the tractor to operate it. They are ideal for deep soil tillage in difficult conditions, improving water circulation and aeration of the soil. Spaders create a finished seedbed and incorporate green matter in one pass, rather than multiple passes required of the plow and tiller.
The faster, deep rooting of crops increase plant vigor and reduce drought risk and soil temperature fluctuations. Absence of plow pan allows roots to reach deep for the nutrients they need, making this machinery ideal for preparing beds for root crops.
Joe sells to Community Supported Agriculture members, at regular and seasonal farmer’s markets, and to Asheville-area restaurants such as Table, Cucina 24, Zambra and The Imperial Life. Growing more than 40 varieties of vegetables, he has operated his own farm since 2011 after learning from and working with other Western North Carolina farmers for two years, including Green Toe Ground and Let it Grow Organic Gardens. He now farms on former tobacco land.
“Being a diverse vegetable farmer is the most challenging thing I’ve ever done, and that is what makes it so worthwhile, day in and day out,” said Joe, 27. “The farm satisfies my passion to grow food for people and work outside. It allows me to maintain a quality way of life that I believe in. It has also solidified my purpose in life, to be a farmer.”