Vertical Oblong Wheel Planter System: Scale Up Yield, Increase Production, Increase Profits, Feed More in the Community, and Improve Worker Ergonomics

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2012: $7,379.75
Projected End Date: 12/31/2013
Region: North Central
State: Missouri
Project Coordinator:
Lisa Firsick
Y Knot Farm

Annual Reports


  • Fruits: berries (strawberries)


  • Crop Production: food product quality/safety
  • Energy: energy conservation/efficiency, solar energy
  • Production Systems: general crop production
  • Sustainable Communities: sustainability measures

    Proposal summary:

    Limited growing season and space = limited production, people fed, and income. In the North Central Region small farmers have a limited growing season and usually limited space. These two factors limit production, mouths fed, and income. One can only grow so much, on so much land, in a short amount of time. Production, people fed and income is limited and seasonal! A small farmer needs to take full advantage of their space. With store food prices skyrocketing and the growing movements of “wanting to know where your food comes from” and “buy local”, small farmers are faced with space limitations and limited growth of their businesses. How can a local grower capitalize on his space and in turn feed more local people? Expand your space with a Vertical Oblong Wheel (VOW) Planter System A VOW planter system is much like a typical Ferris wheel except oblong in the vertical direction. This planter will be comprised of a steel stand, sprockets, heavy duty chains, and twelve or more ten foot long planters. These planters will rotate around this oblong chain much like a Ferris wheel, by a solar water pump filling a bucket which raises a lever arm attached to the chain.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Interim Report
    • Final cost and any improvements of the VOW planter system will be noted, evaluated, and reported in the Winter of 2012.
    Final Report and Questions that will be answered by this SARE Project:
    • Evaluation on the material used along with any variations that would make a better VOW or materials that would be better suit the VOW.
    • Comparison VOW yields to ground yield, quantity and quality. (Was it five times the amount?)
    • What value to the community did the VOW planter system provide?
    • Did it increase yield, feed more people?
    • Did it increase local customers?
    • Did it create jobs?
    • Did the field days and literature increase community knowledge and/or involvement in growing or buying locally?
    • Is the VOW feasible to a family, a school, a community garden?
    • What value to the farmer did the VOW planter system provide?
    • Did it increase profits?
    • What is the rate of return on the money spent on the VOW System?
    • Did it increase worker production?
    • Did it impact quality of life?
    • What value to the worker did the VOW planter system provide?
    • Did it increase worker comfort?
    • Did it impact their quality of life?

    As American citizens we not only need to choose healthier eating habits we also need to be more efficient in our eating habits. We need to grow local and buy local. We need to start supporting our own communities and their businesses before our Small Farms and Main Streets fade away. Small farmers, community gardens and family home gardens need to utilize all of their available space. The VOW will increase useable growing spaces such as rooftops, office yards, community spaces, townhouse patios, school yards, even balconies. An increased growing space translates into increased yield, which in turn increases the number of people fed in your community. This means the community is relying less on food from another part of the country or even another part of the world. To a small farmer, an increased yield will bring increased profits, a higher quality of life and more money to spur community growth. The VOW will increase the comfort of the worker, increase worker efficiency and decrease employer expenses. Available planting space is increased adding employment opportunities in the community. Feeding more individuals on a local basis not only benefits the local community and local economy, it also supports a cleaner environment by protecting air and water quality, and minimizing energy consumption.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.