Farm Beginnings® tours Paradise in Progress Farm near Nebraska City

Tour Ellen & Jim Shank 2018
Ellen Shank discusses with the Farm Beginnings® class their diverse farm located along Highway 75 north of Nebraska City. Ellen and Jim Shank produce, vegetables, fruit, eggs, chicken and lamb on Paradise in Progress Farm.


High Tunnel 2018 Shanks
The Shanks have two high tunnels, one was purchased with the assistance of the NRCS EQIP High Tunnel Cost-Share Program. Tomatoes are the primary crop grown in the high tunnels, along with some of the cool-season cole crops and different types of lettuce. According to Ellen, the tomatoes do much better in the high tunnels than out in the field.
Shanks black plastic and potatoes
The Shanks utilize black plastic outside in their vegetable operation.  They laid the plastic down and then planted the potatoes.  They have a plastic irrigation line under the plastic.  The black plastic helps warm up the soil faster in the spring so the crops can take off and grow. It is also good in eliminating weed problems. Ellen says this is an excellent method for raising potatoes.
Squash & Onions under plastic
Ellen and Jim planted a few of rows of onion sets into the plastic and started to plant some squash in rows of the black plastic as well.
plastic bed maker
Jim Shank stands next to the bed maker that is used on their farm.  It lays down a bed of plastic and then different crops are planted into it. It makes life easier on their farm.
Cattle Panels for Cantelope
While the Shanks purchase equipment that will improve their efficiency on the farm, they also use many innovative techniques that save time and reduce labor. These cattle panels are used as a trellis.  At the base of the trellis on the right side are green snap peas that will grow up on the trellis where they will be able to easily pick them. With the cold temperatures this year, they are way behind schedule. On the left side they will plant cantaloupe when the soil warms up.  They plant a popular small sized cantaloupe that will climb up the trellis. They mulch the soil inside the trellis with grass clippings as a mulch. When the cantaloupes are ripe they will fall off on the clippings, ready to harvest. This way they do not have to clean soil off of them, saving both labor and time.

Peppers in the bucket #2Peppers in the bucket #1

Notice the rows of buckets sitting on top of the black plastic in first photo above. The second photo shows peppers growing in the black plastic in the bottom of the buckets that have holes cut in them.  This is to protect the young pepper plants from the strong Nebraska winds.  As you may recall we have had some pretty strong winds in recent days. These would have probably broken off the young pepper plants.

High Tunnel #2
The Shanks other high tunnel has a lot of cool-season varieties of lettuce and quite a few tomatoes as well.
Cucumbers #1
The Shanks plant a lot of cucumbers under black plastic as well.  They will also plant watermelon when the soil warms up a little bit.
Paradise in Progress Farm also has a row of blackberry plants that are very productive and provide another product for sale from their farm.


vegetable washer #2Vegetable washer #1

The Shanks have made significant upgrades in their operation in recent years. The development of this packing shed has really improved the efficiency of their farm. In the last couple of years they have purchased this vegetable washer shown in the two photos above. This really has increased the speed in which they can wash and pack vegetables for the farmers’ markets.

hand washerstainless steel table

The packing shed is also equipped with a wand washer, sink and stainless steel table shown in the photos above.

germination lights #1
Jim shows the group the room that this spring served as a growing room as they have germination lighting and shelves to set the flats of seed on. later this spring and summer the room will double as a cooler as the Shanks will store their produce inside waiting to take it to a farmer’s market or sell off their farm.


Packing Room
This photo shows each part of the packing shed.  Jim is explaining the vegetable washer, the sink and stainless steel table are behind him and the cooler that doubles as a germination room is at the center of the photo.


Sheep #1
The Shanks have an animal component to their operation as well. They have a flock of baby doll sheep and sell some of these each year.


laying hens
Laying hens are also included on Paradise in Progress Farm. Eggs are a part of the many different products the Shanks sell from their farm.


baby doll sheep
Broilers or meat birds are raised on the farm and the Shanks sell chick to interested customers. The photo above shows the broilers kept in by electrified fence.  This type of fence is also used for the sheep.


You have just completed a short tour of Ellen and Jim Shank’s Paradise in Progress Farm, I hope you enjoyed it. They are also on Facebook “Paradise in Progress Farm”. While they have marketed some of their products at the farm in previous years, this year they are going to do a more extensive marketing of farm produce and products at their farm as they are developing a small farm store. They will still go to a couple of farmers markets, but are located in a good location, just off of Highway 75, just north of Nebraska City in northern Otoe County. If you get a chance stop by their farm, it is a nice place to visit and I am sure they will have something for you soon to take home and eat!