Jason has become well-known for his innovations with the Planet Junior two-wheeled cultivating tractors that he uses for weed control on his farm, and he provides an introductory tutorial into their features and uses, and how they changed everything for Joe’s Gardens. We dig into how the two-wheeled tractors support his intensive, no-bed production, and into the modern weed-control tools that he has used to almost eliminate hand weeding on his farm.
We discuss how Joe’s Garden is laid out to maximize space utilization, and the tillage and production practices that support that layout. Jason also shares how he and his forbears have maintained fertility in a continuous vegetable rotation for 120 years, and the long-term approach he takes to managing soil health.
We also discuss the changes in Joe’s Gardens’ marketing over the years as the wholesale and retail marketplaces have shifted in product demand and consumer attitudes. Joe talks about the challenges they faced in shifting to a retail operation, and the family dynamics that helped make that shift successful.
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Quotes from the Show
To me, short-term is 10, 20 years. That’s short-term. The long game is 50, 60 years.
In our fields, we haven’t had any form of pesticides, synthetic or organic, in over 30 years. That’s just by choice. We just don’t want to do it; one, we don’t like it. Two, you’re in the middle of a city. It just doesn’t fly.
[Urban growth is] a double edged sword. You love having all the people for customers because it makes your business successful and it allows you to continue doing what you love, but at the same time, it’s a lot of people compared to what I grew up with.
[The Planet Junior tractor is] the most incredible thing that’s ever happened to me in small agriculture in my 34 years of doing this.
[A new tool] doesn’t necessarily have to work on my farm, but if I can find something that’s cool, post a video about it, maybe somebody else will see it and go, “Wow, that’ll work for what I’m growing.” It’s a community movement too.
For us, it’s not always about what’s the easiest way to do it. It’s generally always about what’s the fastest way to do it. There’s a fine line there between ease and speed. If trying to make something easier takes you longer when you’re a small truck farm, that doesn’t pay. You’ve got to go for speed over ease any day.
You have to be able to forgive, forget, and never hold a grudge. Grudges will get you nowhere in a family business.
When you’re doing and selling the same stuff that everybody else is selling, you’ve got to make sure that [customers] are happy and they are number one and they’re your number one concern. If you don’t do that, you’re not going to be in business long.
I truly believe in working with your employees. You don’t go sit up in an office or go do something else. You are the one that sets the pace. You’re the one that has the knowledge, the speed to teach them. You should be there as much as you possibly can working side by side to set that pace until they learn it and appreciate the reasons behind it.
Joe recommended Hoss Stirrup Hoes as a cheap, easy solution for setting up a multiple-row weeder behind a walking tractor.