If you’ve driven past the farmstand over the past few weeks, you have probably noticed the new building going up between the farmstand and the rosemary patch.
Our new vegetable washing (VW for short) barn is a state-of-the-art modular design that meets all the standards of the federal Food Safety Modernization law that was passed in 2011 and modified in 2014.
“It’s built like a kitchen,” head farmer Simon Athearn said. “This building is all about sanitation.”
Crops from the field will go straight to the barn for cleaning and refrigeration before they are distributed to Morning Glory’s farmstand, wholesale and kitchen divisions. The results you’ll see, beginning this summer, will be cleaner, fresher produce, provided more efficiently.
The new barn will be outfitted with dunk tanks, washing tables, a “bubble tub” to scrub produce with air as well as water and a device that washes bunched root vegetables.
Dedicated refrigerators will allow workers to quickly cool farm produce after cleaning it. “Prompt cooling can add significant time to the shelf life,” Simon said. “This will all improve the flow of produce.”
The building is made with structural insulated panels, also called SIPs, which are mold- and termite-resistant and contain no ozone-depleting fluorocarbons. The goal is a barn that is both healthy to work in and easy on the environment.
To fund the new barn, Morning Glory worked with a grant-writing consultant provided by the business-to-business platform What’s Good, a “virtual farmers market” we use to connect with our wholesale customers. With this help, we successfully applied for a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR)’s Agricultural Preservation Restriction Improvement Program, which provides not only financing but also access to resources and professionals in the industry.
As a result of the grant, a engineer provided assistance designing the building; a professional business planner has been helping Morning Glory to chart its course forward; and a team of federal biologists, from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Resources Conservation Service, surveyed the farm to create a conservation plan.
“It’s a free federal service to analyze farmland and aid the farmer in soil and environmental conservation,” Simon explained.
“They analyze farm slopes, endangered species, types of grasses, your problem weeds, disease issues and so on, and provide resources if they feel it’s necessary. The federal government often will pay for a culvert to be put in to protect a water source,” for instance.
“These resources are valuable and we are trying to take advantage of them,” Simon said. “It’s an opportunity to leverage the governments’ good will into creating a more powerful local food system.”
At both the state and federal level, he added, “they want you to succeed.”
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