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Washer Tumbles Root Veggies Clean
Dick DeGraff needed a way to wash large amounts of root crops faster and with less labor. The owner of Grindstone Farm in Pulaski, N.Y., which grows organic fruits and vegetables, looked at washers available on the market, then decided to make his own.
  Fifteen years later, he has built more than 100 root washers for small-scale market farmers.
  "I've tried to keep the design simple," DeGraff says. The base and motor mount are made of aluminum, which is lightweight and won't rust. Board slats (1 by 4 pine) are held together by steel bands, with gaps to allow water, soil and debris to run out.
  "The drive motor is on top," DeGraff says. "That keeps water away from it."
  The motor mount also supports a 3/4-in. copper tube with 1/16-in. holes that run along the inside of the barrel. The tube attaches to a garden hose and stays stationary as the barrel turns and the vegetables tumble.
  "It's the action of the crop rolling and tumbling with the water that cleans them," DeGraff says. "It takes less than two minutes to clean fresh-picked produce."
  Vegetables are placed in the end of the barrel where the hose is connected. The other end is raised slightly higher. Adding more vegetables pushes the clean vegetables out the higher end, DeGraff says. A video on the Grindstone Farm website shows how the washer works.
  Customers set up the root washer to fit their operation. Some hang it from winches in a building and can raise it out of the way when they don't need it. Many do as DeGraff does, placing it on sawhorses and moving it where it's handiest - under a shade tree in the summer, next to a pickup waiting to be loaded, or inside on a slanted concrete slab.
  DeGraff offers washers with a fixed speed 1/4 hp motor with gear reducer and direct chain drive, and also a variable speed 1/3 hp motor that can be used for tender vegetables, such as peppers. To save shipping costs he also sells the washers as kits. Prices range from $1,900 for a fixed speed kit to $2,700 for a variable speed assembled washer.
  DeGraff only builds the washers in the wintertime.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Grindstone Farm, 780 County Route 28, Tinker Tavern Road, Pulaski, N.Y. 13142 (ph 315 298-4139; www.grindstone farm.com).

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2009 - Volume #33, Issue #2