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Starting from the Ground Up: A Closer Look at CCCD's Equipment Rental Program

From April 2023 through November 2024, I took time away from my role with the conservation district to work on farms up and down the east coast. Each farm was a vastly different experience, from crops grown to farm crews to what type of bags we would use for the greens that we would sell at the market.


Between the six different farms that I had the pleasure of working and learning on, there was one unifying thread. At each farm, I had the opportunity to see examples of CCCD programming coming to life. Even though these farms were not in Cheshire County, I got to see first-hand how important our program and grant offerings are for farms of all scales and sizes. One of the programs that I quickly realized was invaluable was the Farm Equipment Rental Program.



Participants Gather at the 2023 Equipment Field Day, Image Credit: CCCD


The equipment rental program began in the 2011 season with the acquisition of the 7’ No Till Seeder, which was made possible by the State Conservation Committee Grant. Since 2011, the Cheshire County Conservation District has provided low-cost farm equipment rentals each year throughout our region and beyond.


This program is a valuable cost-saving service to local growers and supports CCCD’s mission of improving soil quality and management through the conservation and responsible use of natural and agricultural resources.


From humble beginnings, CCCD’s program today offers 12 pieces of equipment to accommodate the diverse needs and conservation goals of producers.


The program has been a success with a total of 334 rental since 2016 and usage on over 4,000 acres since 2019!


This success can be attributed to the CCCD Equipment Committee. The Equipment Committee is a group of board members, farmers, service providers, and conservation planners who volunteer their time to oversee the purchasing, maintenance, and provide valuable and guidance insight to the equipment program. The committee has included: Tom Beaudry, Chris Gowdy, Carl Majewski, Bill Fosher, Andy Pressman, Bruce Wooster, and Peter Renzelman. Each member has been instrumental to the program’s success and has helped shape the program into a crucial regional resource.


Over the years funding has been provided by the NH State Conservation Committee (SCC) Conservation Grant Program, the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program through the NH Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food (DAMF), USDA Northeast SARE, USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), and the generosity of private foundations. 


In addition to serving as a valuable resource to farmers, CCCD’s equipment rental program also serves as a resource to conservation districts throughout the United States.


CCCD hosts equipment roundtables to support other conservation districts in developing their equipment rental programs, and oftentimes serves as a resource in a one-on-one capacity with conservation districts. Strengthening equipment rental programs in other conservation districts creates a ripple effect of supporting farmers in reaching their farming goals while following best conservation practices.


As a vegetable farm worker, one of my favorite pieces of equipment is the no-till vegetable transplanter. On hot days, it was incredible to watch the transplanter glide over rows without causing any erosion.




Planting the Fall Onion Crop Behind the Vegetable Transplanter, Image Credit: Benée Hershon


Once in place over the row, the wheel of the transplanter pokes a hole in the soil to easily transplant seedlings and drops fish emulsion (or your fertilizer of choice) to provide nutrients to the seedlings as they acclimate to their new home outside of the greenhouse.


All the while, the transplanter carries the seedling trays in the back, with two seats for workers to place the seedlings as the transplanter makes its way down the row.


If all of this wasn’t incredible enough, I sang the vegetable transplanters praises as it saved my back from constantly having to bend over with a dibble to pierce the soil and drop the transplants by hand.



A Freshly Planted Row of Broccoli Seedlings, the Vegetable Transplanter Drives Off in the Distance, Image Credit: Benée Hershon


The equipment saved time for the entire crew to focus on other farm tasks, which is a valuable cost-effective savings for the farm.


Using the vegetable transplanter was an almost weekly occurrence for me this season, and no matter where I was on the east coast, it took me right back to standing at the Cheshire County Farm at past Equipment Field Days, which is where I first learned about the vegetable transplanter.


On April 9th (snow date April 11th) from 11:00AM-1:00PM at the Cheshire County Farm in Westmoreland, CCCD will be hosting our 2024 Equipment Field Day.




2022 Equipment Field Day Participants Learn About the Esch No-Till Drill, Image Credit: CCCD


The Equipment Field Day is a unique opportunity to connect with other producers, service providers, and to see the equipment in action. The event is free, and registration is required. Register here!


On April 17th from 4:00PM-7:00PM at Antioch’s CGC Site at the Cheshire County Farm in Westmoreland, CCCD, in partnership with UNH Cooperative Extension, the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) Northeast, and Antioch University New England’s Community Garden Connections (CGC) will host one 3-hour BCS Tractor training. To be eligible to rent the BCS Tractor through CCCD's equipment program in 2024, you must attend this training. The event is free, and registration is required. Register here!


Learn more about CCCD’s Farm Equipment Rental Program here! To make a rental reservation contact 603-756-2988 ext. 4  or info@cheshireconservation.org

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