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The Crop Report | Learning to Clean Seeds

Back in December, Santa brought us a little present (code for my Facebook Marketplace purchases that time of year): a seed cleaning machine! No, we are not starting yet another business venture by getting into the seed game but this cool piece of working history did find a home here on the farm. I was scrolling on Facebook, as we all do, and stumbled upon a listing for an antique seed cleaner just down the road. I had to have it and after a few messages made the trip to haul it over to the farm.

When I first laid eyes on the cleaner, some of the dusty patina shook loose in a cloud of seed chaff and floated around the wooden tool like a glowing aurora. It had been yanked from the dark corner of a forgotten bank barn in our very own Augusta County and became homeless as it was passed around from one antique purveyor to the next in search of the right soul to “need” a seed cleaner (this is where I enter stage right). The side was stenciled in discernible writing “THE GRADER” and I just knew we could help it tell its story even though I didn’t know what that was yet.

I brought my new prized possession to the farm for a big reveal to the team. The response wasn't as enthusiastic as I was expecting and the anticipation of what new work this meant was clear, especially in Harleigh. She saw the twinkle in my eye and knew my radar was pointed in her direction.

Harleigh is working to bring our vision of helping others discover how to live a better life through flowers to reality and is creating an agritourism experience that will knock your socks off (seriously, I've seen the plans!). And our new seed cleaner will help to make this a much more hands-on experience for all our guests this year.

One of our favorite features will be The Heritage Barn, where we will showcase so much more than just our dried flowers and the preservation process. The barn will be our own museum, bridging the gap of agriculture with the farm you are on and beyond. We will show working models, real flower farming artifacts, and now even have a seed cleaning machine!

My dream is that folks will be able to use it to collect seed from some of the dried flower bundles we offer. Wouldn’t that be so cool to use the same equipment farmers did hundreds of years ago? We feel pretty confident we can get it up and running - thank goodness I bought one that predated electrical features. There is still a lot to scrub, fix, and figure out but with my strong team of girls, we aren't intimidated by The Grader one darn bit.

We are having fun as we learn the different components, seeing where repairs were made over time along with modifications, and trying to sleuth out the why. The wood is being cleaned and we will condition it with a proper sealer to really highlight the worn patina that represents decades of work. Next we will start testing it out and problem shooting.


This is when I am so grateful to live in a community of wise farmers just waiting for receptive ears. They know the stuff I don’t and will be the resource base I use to get this mighty machine to its best operational self. I've been chatting up my new toy at the local post office, farmers cooperative, and grocery store. I know how farmers talk (I am one), so it won’t be long before the right one strolls this way to tell me more about The Grader. This is how we strengthen the bond of community.  

The gentleman who I acquired the seeder from is now fascinated by this project, telling folks about his part in the new agritourism experience we’re creating. Curious farmers have been excited to share knowledge with us and keep the town buzzing with what those crazy flower girls are up to over at Harmony Harvest. This is part of the reason for opening the farm to the public this year, showing the many layers that keep us all connected through the fibers of flowers. The seeder has been such a great token of that model but it doesn’t end there. We have lots more collaborative and unique features coming that I can’t wait to share with you. There are so many folks I am inspired, grateful, and in awe to work with to create such a beautiful place. My community is actively playing a part in building this destination to grow and discover, and I hope you come visit and maybe even clean your own seeds while you're here.


xoxo, Jess

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