For our first two years of small-scale market sales, we could get away with washing and packing produce in the kitchen. We’d clean it well, clear the counters, and bring everything in. This was not ideal at all, but we had little choice. Our long-term plan was to clean out our larger barn, pour a concrete slab, run water and power, and convert that to a large packing facility with walk-in coolers. That’s still the long-term plan, but this winter we decided we needed a usable washing & packing facility in the meantime. Enter our latest construction project, the prep shed:
We needed something near the market garden and the field road, through which all produce could pass to be washed, sorted, prepared, and packed, with enough space for temporary storage. When all harvesting was done (or as needed) we could then transport items to our coolers in the house. The other main purpose of this structure was storage; right now most of our tools, supplies, hoses, and so on have to live in the house, which is a pain and means we’re constantly running up and down the hill when we need something. So we needed a structure that had useful all-weather storage as well.
Above you see the rough floor plan for the shed. The southern (bottom) half is used for washing, sorting, and packing produce. Items come in either from the market garden (to right) or via vehicle from the field (to left). They are handled along the 16′ counters along the south/bottom wall, which include multiple sinks. Once produce is clean and sorted, it is packed into appropriate containers and stored on the shelving in the NW (upper left) quadrant of the shed until it can be transported en masse to coolers in the house or stored in the truck for market delivery. The NE quadrant is reserved for tool/wheelbarrow/equipment storage, and also opens into the market garden for easy access. The partial second floor of the shed can be used for storing bulky items like irrigation hose.
The design incorporates as much natural light as possible, using clear roofing panels integrated into an otherwise metal roof to shed light on the washing space, and a set of windows along the ridgeline to allow light into the back of the shed. Several large doors also allow light in. This is important as I don’t intend to run power to this. Water will come from our nearby hydrant. The shed will tie into our garden fence so that we can move within the shed and garden without opening gates; loading/unloading from vehicles happens at the western door to the washing area.
That’s the design; in the next few posts I’ll cover the construction, which is ongoing.