Homer Walden of Sunnyside Farm is sharing his years of experience as an experimental model
maker, sheet-metal mechanic and machinist, with the invention of the Speedy Seeder.
After years of studying, farming and constantly inventing new ways to streamline his farm chores, Homer has developed numerous low-tech solutions that establish planting practices that involve no
machinery, no fossil fuels and no chemicals. Homer's goal is to
help others working in this challenging vocation to do the same, and the Speedy Seeder will do just that, for full-time farmers or backyard gardeners.
As the need
for healthier food and responsible environmental stewardship grows ever
more important, it's the small but collective forces of change that will
make a difference.
We here at Sunnyside Farm are making these changes, honored by the governor of Pennsylvania with the
Award for Environmental Excellence (for not using fossil fuels on our farm); named
Farmer Heroes by Farm Aid 2012; and certified by Food Alliance, we are
ready to deliver a key piece of equipment that anyone can easily use, which currently helps us grow tons of plants that feed
hundreds of people!
The Speedy Seeder reduces planting, weeding and thinning time
while increasing production of delicious vegetables, flavorful herbs and
beautiful flowers. The Speedy Seeder allows you to pinpoint the exact location of your seeds in just
moments, while blocking weeds at the same time, resulting in abundant
produce, herbs and armloads of flowers!
Most people love carrots.
Eaten raw, added to a stew or soup, shredded or sliced into a salad,
slid through a dip or side by side with a peanut butter and jelly
sandwich, the carrot is an easy-to-eat and prepare vegetable.
And yet carrots are one of the most challenging vegetables to grow.
After disappointing ourselves and our customers with sub-par carrot growth, Homer began thinking of
a better way to determine how many carrot seeds go into the ground (they are the
same color as the dirt and difficult to see) and the distance needed from one
seed to another. He had learned by earlier experience that if carrot seeds are planted too close together, the result is carrot
dental floss. No one wants that! Planted too far apart and the weeds take over,
resulting in a messy bed and twisted, unappealing carrots. It
was when thinking about those parameters that he came up with the idea
for the Speedy Seeder, designed to lay down the perfect number of
perfectly-spaced seeds into a bed, with a minimum of time and effort.
The idea for the Speedy Seeder started with those carrots, and has grown to be a simple piece of
equipment that works with any seed. It is the manufacture of this equipment that we are hoping to fund via this Kickstarter project.
The first iteration was a roller
system with a sticky solution for holding seeds in place. It was
cumbersome, had too many moving parts. Back to the drawing board. The
second edition had fewer moving parts, but still had user challenges. On
to the third edition. Then more design modifications to the fourth
edition. A few years have passed, more growing seasons have passed, more tests of the Speedy Seeder have been run, with more
vegetables seeded and harvested. The fourth edition is it!
The Speedy Seeder is a one
piece plate with flexible positioning points. Sized and shaped to fit
into a standard box size (manufactured locally), it will be easily available by the hundreds
of thousands if need be. Homer has worked extensively with a local manufacturing shop near Sunnyside Farm here in central Pennsylvania; they have worked up a full estimate for production costs and timing, including setting up the tooling that is needed to create the Speedy Seeder, and manufacturing the actual Speedy
Seeder inventory, ready to sell.
Meanwhile, we have produced written/illustrated directions for use; as soon as Kickstarter funds are raised, we will print the directions. With the funds we raise, we will also produce an instructional video for launch on YouTube, along with the actual Speedy Seeder.
Neither of us have jobs off the farm.
We both work here full time, with quiet time between Thanksgiving and
end of April. We gear up with our own vegetable plantings then, but
until then our farm chores are completed in hours each day. We have two
full months this spring to devote full time to the Speedy Seeder project, time to get the parts manufactured, directions
printed, video shot and the Speedy Seeder boxed and shipped.
We have a 4,000-square-foot
building on the farm that can hold all of the manufactured inventory. We will ship out all of the rewards we have offered for funding, including your own Speedy Seeder, sent for pledges of $50 or more, in time for use in planting this spring season. We expect shipment to be completed
before our real intense growing season occurs (by the summer). Other growers will need this
piece as we do, at the beginning of spring, and we will fulfill all rewards/orders in a timely manner.
Our other rewards are for on-farm events,
which would take place here at Sunnyside Farm later in the year, with schedules
for each coordinated with the recipients.
Risks and challenges
Homer spent years working in production and packaging before he became a full-time farmer. He knows the ins and outs of fabrication and production, and has decades of experience streamlining production. The Speedy Seeder design works, and he has negotiated with local companies to put the Speedy Seeder into production as soon as our goal is hit. Farmer wife Dru is ready with boxes, a tape gun and a UPS account to get labels on and have the Speedy Seeder out the door in time for spring plantings.
The tooling for the Speedy Seeder will be done by a local fabrication house. We will have the same fabricator produce the initial run of 800 Speedy Seeders. If the orders double this amount, we will contract with a second fabrication house for production; that way if there is a problem with one, the other can pick up the work. Instructions will be printed by a local printer. We will film and upload the video instructions, which can be reshot and edited as questions from Speedy Seeder users arise. We have many cardboard-box manufacturers in the area, as we are near York, PA, which has been a book printing/manufacturing area for a century, so there are many cardboard manufacturers very close to the farm. The Speedy Seeder was designed to fit into a standard-size manufactured box, so that we can purchase what we need right off their shelves.
The key to this project is Homer's design. His design, as well as the tooling specifications, are already completed. And each step of the way, Homer will be there to insure correct production, from the settings on equipment to the actual final set of tools that will be used in manufacturing.
The preorders from the Kickstarter campaign will allow us to know the number we need to manufacture, and once the button is pushed for production, 800 Speedy Seeders will take less than a week to make. Homer will be in the shop during the production run, quality checking random pieces to make certain no errors in production occur. Boxing with instructions, labeling and loading the UPS truck will take ten days, at the rate of 80 Speedy Seeders daily (or 10 per hour, 6 minutes to get the box built, the Speedy Seeder into the box, instructions added, box closed, label on). The labels will be printed prior to packing; as the Speedy Seeders are being manufactured the labels will be printed here in our offices. There are no other rewards for donations due in the spring, so that we can have four weeks to focus only on this: we have allowed ten weeks in case of flooding, fire, general mayhem.
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