Need Cool Storage For Your Small Produce Business? Frugal Ideas To Consider

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Whether you operate your produce- or flower-growing operation on a community-supported agricultural model (CSA), sell to area restaurants and markets, or use your harvests to create another retail product, preserving the vegetables, herbs, fruit, or flowers you grow is sure to be a prime concern. Unfortunately, the costs involved in purchasing commercial refrigeration equipment, such as walk-in cooler units, may not be affordable for the small grower. Luckily, there are some things you can do very affordably that will allow you to extend the shelf life of your harvests without wrecking your small produce budget. 

Consider using a space you already have 

In many cases, creating a cool room to store your harvests does not have to require building a new, dedicated space or buying an expensive self-contained unit. Instead, take a good look at the outbuildings and spaces you already have with an eye toward turning them into a cool room.

Ideally, the space you choose should: 

  • be easily accessible for moving large quantities of your harvested items in and out as needed
  • be already wired for electricity
  • have adequate lighting or be able to have functional lighting easily installed
  • be an area where air flow can be restricted in order to help maintain interior temperatures

Extra garage spaces, an unused tack or feed room in your barn, or even a small portable storage shed could all be considered for their potential to become a cold storage area for your produce or floral business.

Spend time sealing the space

Once you have decided upon a space, the next step will be to seal off gaps and openings where the cooled air could leak out. If the space is already insulated and finished, such as a finished garage bay, you may only need to hang some large tarps or panels to separate the space and turn it into a functional space for your needs. However, if you are using a space that has not been insulated, such as a room in your barn or a storage shed, you may need to use spray insulation or insulating foam panels to seal the space and prevent air loss. 

Have an air conditioning unit professionally installed

The last step in completing your homemade cold storage area for your produce or floral growing business will be to have a portable air conditioning unit installed in one wall of your space. This air conditioning unit will need to be equipped with a special device that will regulate the air conditioner's internal thermostat. This will allow the interior temperature of your cold room to be held at a much lower temperature than would be necessary for cooling a room in a home. 

For more information on using a portable air conditioning unit to create cold storage for your business, contact a reputable technician in your area who specializes in air conditioning installation and maintenance. 

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