The Bean Project
IHartHarvest Inc. - The Green Bean Project - V:2.6b
- The String Bean Project - What is it?
The Green Bean (String Bean) Project is an idea put forth, to grow fresh String Beans (Green, Yellow, & Peas capable) and provide to local Food Pantries and The Greater Berks Food Bank for neighbors in need.
Within our current infrastructure, we can harvest a finite quantity of potatoes as we currently do, in the labor intensive method utilized. In the 2011 season we initiated harvest with weekly Walk-In Friday Sessions starting in late July. These sessions as it turns out, enabled a completed total harvest of 12.7 acres being over 77,000 pounds. We finished total harvest just in time as the early October Halloween snow storm hit the area the following weekend. While we have implemented a bulk method enabling better throughput in the harvest of potatoes yearly since 2009 in our 2014 season in cooperative partnership with The Greater Berks Food Bank, our infrastructure harvest process while improved remains labor intensive for potatoes. This current harvest method limits the amount of potato acres we can work as currently estimated to be 8-12 acres. What then, rather than not utilizing additional acres offered to the program, might we do, not being able to afford and justify the expense of an automated potato harvester, and taking into account crop harvest work intervals?
In 2011 we were offered a total estimate of 25 acres, of which we set 12 (13.2) acres, 12.7 into potatoes, and the rest into trialing an alternative crop of summer squash, electing to allow still the 12 additional acres offered, not to be utilized. It must be noted that it is good practice to rotate plot crops, especially as potatoes are heavy users of soil nutrients, while depositing volatile nitrogen in return. Our potato planting density was low at 750 pounds per acre with existing older equipment, this being about 1/3 of modern planting density. This can allow the planting of potatoes up to 3 years into specific plots taking into account the end harvest production numbers of a current plot crop, expecting production to noticeably fall off in the successive production year cycle. For 2014, we were able to upgrade our potato planter to a 2 row high density unit planting 2,000 pounds of seed potatoes to the acre, enabling to markedly reduce the acre foot print, costs, and improve harvest pounds per acre, freeing more acres for use potential.
Hence as put forth; the idea of adding The Green Bean Project. As stated, this allows apportioned funding of The Potato Project, and too allows us to plan and rotate the potato crop in plots, maintaining offered utilized land into the overall program. Harvested String Beans will be distributed to local Food Pantries, and The Greater Berks Food Bank who redistributes to over 300 needy food programs throughout Western Montgomery County, all of Berks, and into Schuylkill County, in support of food for neighbors in need. Additional funding is necessary to support infrastructure of The Green Bean Project which will enable the initial acquisition of a mechanized, good used single row harvester (bean picker), and a 50 horsepower tractor to operate the harvester, and sundry associate supplies.
Why String Beans for the acres outside of potato capability?
While summer squash was trialed, it, as well as other typical food crops, is intensely labor demanding in that, when the crop becomes ready within a limited window of opportunity it must be harvested, unlike the characteristics of the potato crop which can wait for planned group harvest sessions and remain in the ground for harvest. Also, food crops must be provided which the public will consume regularly. Scheduling other fresh food crops to come to fruition outside of the term of potatoes leaves us without the people-power for a successful harvest, in that as little as we'd like to admit it - church is closed for the summer from June through the beginning of September as to practical purposes of having people-power available and scheduling group harvest sessions. Without the required and available people-power, it is opinioned we do not have the current where-with-all of mechanical harvest equipment for any other fresh food crop than potatoes, to this point, in efforts to continue to do good in the community. A Green Bean crop can fit into our present infrastructure with additional mechanized equipment enabling limited manpower to one to three persons. String Beans may be successfully double cropped for spring and fall harvest seasons as well.
The additional three basic pieces of equipment needed for purchase: Used 1 Row Bean Harvester, Used 50 Horsepower Tractor capable of operating the Bean Harvester, and an initial supply of Harvest Bins. Initial funding source needs to be secured allowing the purchase of necessary equipment as best presented available, to begin The Green Bean Project. Successive seasons would be supported by on-going overall Project Grants and Public Donations, as well as being subsidized via the initiated and successful Field Corn Project. Considered for first year season is 5 Acres of donated land into this project.
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Estimated Typical Costs per Acre Guide as Reference Sample
Yields can range from a low of <30 bu/acre (hot, dry conditions without irrigation) to >300 bu/acre with irrigation. Comparable processing yields might be 6 to 7 tons/acre.
* Color Code Blue denotes IHartHarvest Charity Operations Expectation
Overall Equipment Start-up Cost Estimates:
$5,000 -$15,000 Good condition, 50HP PTO/Drawbar Tractor.
$15,000 -38,000 Good condition to new, 1Row Bean Harvester, such as Oxbo Pixall BH-100.
At Initial Start-up: Equipment Shipping, Harvest Bins and Associated Equipment, Sundry Repairs & Maintenance, Operational Setup included in equipment estimates.
See Oxbo Harvesters, String Bean and Sweet Corn, in action on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QflDbeVN7_4
"What is a Food Desert?" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_desert
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Note that, out of the Green Bean (String Beans, Peas) a Sweet Corn Project utilizing an Oxbo Sweet Corn Harvester may develop. Why? Simply 1. because of the need, 2. we can do more, and 3. we can do better.