Banner Greenhouses, located in Nebo, N.C., not far from Asheville, grows a multitude of bedding plants and flowers, but in the last decade they have been producing excellent organic vegetable seedlings. On our recent tour of their facility we saw how they are able to produce such excellent plants for farmers all over the region. We learned a good deal about their tomato grafting techniques, how to use companion plantings for pest management, the best ways to manage light and temperature in the greenhouses, and how to find and even apply recommended organic fertilizers for our own high tunnel crops. Banner’s produce seedlings are all certified organic, and are of the highest quality. We highly recommend Banner Greenhouses to our partner farmers, too, or any of our wholesale or specialty grocer clients who sell ornamentals – their bedding plants are exceptional.
Currently, Williamson Greenhouses doesn’t have a big presence online. They don’t need to because everybody in the region knows who they are. They are located here in Clinton, N.C. The owner, Michael Johnson, is an expert greenhouse designer and builder, and is generous with his time. We have called him many times over the years with advice on greenhouse construction and fixes. In the Spring of 2018, Turner Family Farms partnered with Michael in designing a move-able caterpillar tunnel. At 19′ wide and over 10′ tall in the center, it’s big enough for us to use our powerful but small Deere 955 compact tractor on the inside. The distance between bows is such that the tractor can drive between the bows if necessary, as well. We are able to get 5 x 100′ beds inside. The tunnel comes with a central mister system and an optional shade cloth for hot weather. It’s amazingly strong even though the plastic is only held on by overlapping ropes. We have one of these caterpillar tunnels at this time, but we have plans to erect as many as eighteen in the next three years.
Farmer’s Friend LLC
Farmer’s Friend is located in Williamsport, Tennessee. We buy from them online. We first became aware of them when a few of the progenitors of the sustainable produce farming movement, such as Eliot Coleman and J.M. Fortier, began raving about the Farmer’s Friend Quick-Cut Greens Harvester. This tool saves man-hours ten fold when it comes to harvesting salad greens, baby winter greens, and even micro-greens with the optional bench attachment. ( Check out Curtis Stone’s review of it ) Farmer’s Friend went on to build an exceptional propane flame weeder, aptly named “the Pyroweeder.” We buy all of our weed suppressing silage tarps from Farmer’s Friend as well. And, while we developed our own caterpillar tunnel to our unique specs with our great local friends above, Williamson Greenhouses, the Farmer’s Friend Caterpillar Tunnel may be what they are best known for, and, that same group of famous sustainable farmers like J.M. Fortier, Curtis Stone, and others, highly recommend it and use it for their own season extension needs. Farmer’s Friend is a company making high-quality, innovative products for small farmers. We greatly admire this company and the people that work there. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Take one look at their “Team” page on their website and you see genuinely happy people. We look forward to their next great innovation.
Berry Hill Irrigation
Berry Hill Irrigation is an indispensable supplier of equipment and supplies for Turner Family Farms. The owner John is a calm, soft-spoken man who looks much younger than he is. I almost tipped him one time when he was loading something really heavy into my truck until I realized that he was that John. We constantly look to John and the crew of Berry Hill for advice on irrigation, fertigation, greenhouse supplies, bedders, plastic mulch and landscape fabric, and that’s really just scratching the surface of what they offer. One thing that always amazes us is that we get deliveries to the River Bluffs farm location in about eighteen hours. We will call John, typically in a panic, at 3pm and receive irrigation parts and supplies at 9am the next morning. I’m not even sure how that’s possible. Their website is mostly catalog, but their Facebook page gives people a better feel for the place, and, their youtube channel has really good instructional videos. We couldn’t do without this place.