A Smart Setup for Your Farm

Design cleaning, processing, and irrigation infrastructure for your homestead to help you work smarter, not harder, when it comes to day-to-day operations.

| October/November 2018

  • garden
    There are eight pieces of infrastructure you should establish on any farm to ready the spaces for processing, storage, and ease of access.
    Photo by Ben Hartman
  • processing-room
    A processing room for washing greens should be easy to clean and well-lit.
    Photo by Ben Hartman
  • spray-table
    When spray tables are lifted off the ground, cleaning under them becomes a breeze.
    Photo by Ben Hartman
  • hose
    Hang your spray hose not only to keep it out of the way while you move about, but also for a more ergonomic design when washing.
    Photo by Ben Hartman
  • drying-rack
    Set aside space in your spray room to dry your clean equipment!
    Photo by Ben Hartman
  • drip-tape
    Use drip tape to water crops that grow under landscape fabric.
    Photo by Ben Hartman
  • sprinkler
    Secure overhead sprinklers with step spike bases.
    Photo by Ben Hartman
  • irrigation-timer
    An irrigation timer may help ensure perfect watering.
    Photo by Ben Hartman
  • kale-garden
    Before growing any produce to sell, spend time perfecting your farm infrastructure for years of smooth sailing.
    Photo by Ben Hartman

  • garden
  • processing-room
  • spray-table
  • hose
  • drying-rack
  • drip-tape
  • sprinkler
  • irrigation-timer
  • kale-garden

Not too long after we moved to our small farm, we realized there was work to be done before we could start growing produce to sell. Posts in the barn were leaning over, in need of support. Paint had completely peeled from the old chicken house, leaving bare wood. We had a well, but no water hydrants. And while the barn could house animals, it wasn’t set up for processing vegetables.

So we decided to spend our first year on infrastructure: building greenhouses, installing drain tiles, remodeling a processing room, building a driveway, and otherwise organizing the farm. By taking time to build up our farm’s infrastructure early on, we set ourselves up for smooth sailing for many years ahead.

Based on our experiences, we recommend that you establish these eight pieces of infrastructure for any farm you’re taking on.

1. Processing Room

A small-scale vegetable farm requires a processing room about the size of a one-stall garage. It should be well-lit and easy to sanitize. Ideally, the walls will be covered with panels that can be hosed down, and the floor will be finished and easy to mop. It should be insulated and heated if you plan to grow produce to sell all winter.



The processing room on our farm is a former milking area. When we bought the property, we removed 11 stanchions and filled in the manure trough. Later, we insulated and painted the walls and added a small gas heater. We use our processing room to wash greens in tubs and pack orders into boxes going to customers.

Inside the room is a hand-washing sink with soap. We ask workers to wash their hands at this station before handling food. We use a small electric hot water heater to warm wash water in winter, and we use a four-bay stainless steel sink (with bays measuring 20 by 28 inches and 18 inches deep) to wash baby greens and microgreens. As an alternative to sinks, some growers use sturdy stock tanks and even porcelain-enameled bathtubs. Above our sink is a 1-inch water line with short lengths of garden hose for quick filling. A drain in the floor carries drainage water out through a buried 4-inch plastic drain tile.






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