2020 - Volume #44, Issue #4, Page #03[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Straddle Cart Handy For Garden Harvest
“A straddle cart is tall and wide enough to straddle a crop row or bed even as the crop grows and fills in,” says Reid Allaway, a vegetable farmer, tinkerer and manager of infrastructure, machinery and green manures at Tourne-Sol co-operative farm, a small to medium-sized organic CSA and seed farm outside Montreal.
He copied the basic design from Michel Massuard at Vallon des Sources farm, using 1-in. galvanized square tubing left from a greenhouse project, mountain bike and fat bike tires, angle iron for loading platforms (about 6 in. off the ground) to hold the totes, and pieces of metal for bracing and counterweight over the outrigger tire.
The tires are set 60 in. apart to fit Tourne-Sol’s bed system and ride in the same wheel tracks as the tractors that prepare the beds. The crossbar over the bed is about 36 in. above the ground, offering adequate clearance for most plants.
It works well for moving the cart along rows of zucchini or lettuce - two crops where the cart is mostly used.
“The appeal in using it for lettuce is the high capacity. Because lettuce isn’t very heavy we can stack right up to our eyes or beyond and haul a lot of bins out to the end of the 300-ft. bed with each trip. A couple pickers can harvest 600+ (small) heads of lettuce and haul them all out to the end of the bed in just two trips,” Allaway says. “Because they are heavier, totes of zucchini are only stacked 5-high rather than 6-high.”
Empty totes are dropped off with one trip down the bed and then totes are filled before starting a return trip to collect them. Totes are loaded onto the cart’s platforms - alternating back and forth to keep the cart balanced. Many totes can be moved at once to save a lot of time and walking. The cart is easy to maneuver by pulling or pushing the square tubing handle.
Allaway notes that he upgraded the load-bearing wheel from a standard mountain bike wheel/tire to a fat bike wheel/tire. If he or farm coworker Julien Vedel, who also built a cart, were to build a third cart, they would move the load platforms a couple inches toward the outrigger wheel to put the center of mass between the wheels.
The carts are used regularly at Tourne-Sol farm, Allaway says, and a similar design might be useful for home gardeners.
“They are good for hauling materials, or harvesting in narrow alleys and working around tall or bushy crops arranged in rows,” he says.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Reid Allaway, Tourne-Sol Cooperative Farm, 1035 Chemin St-Dominique, les Cedres, QC J7T 1P5 Canada (ph 450 452-4271; www.fermetournesol.qc.ca; firstname.lastname@example.org).
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