A New Toy – the Bin Dumper! Veggie Share #5 – 11/25/20

 In CSA Newsletter

Potatoes were harvested by digging fork/hand at the first farm I ever worked for.

I can still remember the sense of awe as I watched our potato digger, with its rumbly belts and chains, undercut and toss potatoes out neatly on the ground for the first time.

No more digging! All we had to do was simply pick up the potatoes and put them in crates.

Amazing. Amazing!

Doing hard work in farm fields by hand gives one a deep appreciation for machinery, as a well as a deep knowing to why the industrial revolution immediately pointed its aim at agriculture.  What can equipment and machines do to make this work easier?

Now of course there’s all kinds of societal and environmental downsides to mechanization too… but today, I’m just gonna take a moment to celebrate.

Sitting in our farm driveway right now is a new machine called a bin dumper. It does exactly what it names states…. it can be loaded with a bin of root crops, say potatoes, and then electricity and hydraulics raise it up and dump the potatoes out slowly, either into crates or onto say a wash line.


It’s hard to understand the beauty of a machine that does this unless you’ve done the work of hand unloading a pallet bin of potatoes, carrots, beets, or radishes.

Each pallet bin holds about one thousand pounds, or a half ton, of root crops. When we harvest in the field we don’t have nearly enough crates to keep all the food we harvest in those small crates. So we harvest into the crates and then gently dump them into a pallet bin for longer term storage. When it’s time to wash and prep those roots crops later on, we have to unload each and every potato or beet back out of the bins by hand.

This is tedious work. And seeing as a pallet as 3 feet high and many of them don’t have side doors on them, it requires a lot of bending one’s body over the edge of the bin and reaching down to grab what lies inside. On average it takes about 2 hours of labor time to unload a pallet bin by hand.

With our new toy, we can accomplish this task in a quarter of the time and it doesn’t result in sore backs. One person can manage the dumper. Lots of heavy lifting still required, but it’s lots faster and easier.

Our cold weather staff has been quick to point out that this dumper will take away much of their work load in future seasons- but they quickly concede that it takes away a job they tend to detest. The very same workers who point out how this machine could take over part of one’s job also can’t help but be in awe of what the machine can accomplish. I’ve caught a few smiles and looks of awe on the faces of crew members who see what the machine can do.

And so today, I’m not going to think too hard about social consequences of this new machine. I’m just going to sit in my awe at the human ability to invent ways to save our bodies from hard labor.

Farmer Cassie