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Top Shops: Spacious farmstead
Marc Freese jokes that when he got married to wife Dawn, he “had a room, and then my room became a closet, and then my closet became a box,” he laughs, musing on the justification for their operation, Heritage Farms, to invest in an extensive office complex.
The lesson learned from not having enough storage space in the early days of Heritage Farms’ development inspired the Freeses to design a farmstead for big machinery.
“We were fortunate to be able to start from scratch and add new buildings as we needed to,” Marc remembers. “But we knew that a spacious yard was essential to accommodate the larger equipment that we expected the farm would acquire as it expanded in the future.”
When Marc began to farm in 1994, he erected a 50×120-foot structure that served as a combination shop and machinery storage. The shop was located at one end of that building. The remaining space was utilized as cold storage. “We outgrew that storage area, which prompted us to build a 60×120-foot machinery storage unit,” Marc explains. “As the farm grew, we soon ran out of equipment storage. I’m a firm believer in housing all equipment. One of the things we have found in replacing machinery, is that if we kept our machinery clean, under a roof, we just got so much more on trade-in.”
Space to turn around
So in short order, the Freeses added two additional cold storage structures, both are 60×150 feet. Those structures were oriented in the same direction as the first machinery storage building, so their end doors face east and into the farm’s spacious graveled yard.
“We did put side doors on those buildings, but we’ve found that we rarely use them. The end doors are most commonly employed,” Marc observes.
One of the key strategic decisions the Freeses made was to leave at least 150 feet of space between each of the three machinery storage structures.
“We had the space available in the farmyard and wanted to make sure there was enough room between those buildings to move machinery around,” Marc recalls. “So, we calculated that 150 feet were needed between each structure. This would provide enough room to turn a semitrailer around between the buildings if we needed to do that.”
An even wider yard is located in front (to the east) of the three machinery storage buildings, the farm’s old shop storage structure (now part of an office/meeting room complex), and a new 66×150-foot shop located to the northeast of the storage structures. The spacious yard between buildings provides ample room for a fleet of equipment to be staged out of the farm each day.
What to do with water?
The only downside “to all that gravel and those roofs is water,” Marc says. “Our farmstead is flat as a table. Now we are running into the challenge of draining away rainfall and snowmelt in this vast area we left for traffic. We’re looking at tiling under the gravel to get rid of the water.”
The cost of tiling will be a small price to pay for allowing ample maneuvering room in the farmstead.
“Machinery will continue to get larger into the future. I just want to make sure our children have enough room in the future if they decided to farm,” says Freese.
The Heritage Farms farmstead was featured this past fall on the Successful Farming Machinery Show, which airs on RFD-TV.