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$13,412 pledged of $25,000 goal
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By Food Farm
$13,412 pledged of $25,000 goal
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About

Storing 3-million Servings Per Year! 

At the Food Farm, we believe the Lake Superior bioregion can substantially feed itself despite our short growing season. Our farm’s unique root cellar will allow us to store organic vegetables through the long northern Minnesota winter when local produce is not available.

Over the past 15 years we have refined a design that keeps produce cool through summer and safe in -30°F winter weather with minimal energy inputs. Since 1975, the Food Farm has brought the joys of eating vegetables to the Duluth area. Last year, in 2014, 85,000 pounds of vegetables were stored in our existing root cellar. And... it’s not enough.

Our existing root cellar has been an important “proof of concept” that we can store the productivity of the summer sun through the long, cold winter. We are passionate about sharing the knowledge, experience, and infrastructure that it takes to store vegetables in an energy-efficient way. As we expand on this original prototype, we’re not just making the plans open-source, we’re opening the doors for other local farmers to pack, wash, and store in our new building.

Fully funded, this project can make 3.2 million servings of local produce available during the winter, provide access to storage space and equipment to new farmers, and supply important information to other communities seeking to achieve the same goal of food self-sufficiency—all from a clean, modern facility with net-zero energy usage.

Our modern root cellar: Earth-Sheltered. Community Supported.
Solar-Powered.

  • Expand access to healthy local food by storing up to 3.2-million servings of vegetables through the winter.
  • Increase quality of stored produce and lengthen the storage season
  • Reduce risk to farmers and CSA members by ensuring ideal storage conditions through all seasons.  
  • Conserve energy by utilizing traditional techniques combined with modern technology in order to achieve net-zero energy usage in a facility that is practical, safe, and efficient. 
  • Share the space with other local farmers so they can wash, store, and pack their own produce in our new facility. 
  • Share information we have learned with other farms so that communities anywhere can develop the capacity to feed themselves.

We need your help to complete this vision.

  • Other farmers and organizations who would like to construct a similar building using our design. 
  • Anyone who values access to healthy local food all year. 
  • Duluth area CSA members, shoppers at the Duluth and Grand Marais Whole Foods Co-ops, Carlton Meat and Grocery, Duluth Grill, Chester Creek Café, University of Minnesota Duluth, Essentia Health, Spirit Creek Farm fermented foods, and other schools, hospitals, institutions and food businesses that have not previously had access. 
  • Other farmers who would like to use our storage space and equipment, including Northern Harvest Farm and Stone’s Throw Farm. 
  • Institutions and organizations working for sustainable technology practices
  

Help us complete our vision! 


$25,000 BASE GOAL Install the electrical, ventilation, and a limited refrigeration system

$45,000 STRETCH GOAL
Full refrigeration and humidification systems to provide ideal storage conditions immediately after harvest for best long-term quality. Install a monitoring system so that we can share temperature, humidity, and energy usage data with other farmers and researchers.


$65,000 THE COMPLETE SOLAR-POWER VISION
Installation of solar electric system to offset energy use of the new building and the washing/packing equipment. This will ensure that the farm stays 100% solar powered at the same time we grow and store more food.

 Growing community since 1975!

The Food Farm was founded 40 years ago by John and Jane Fisher-Merritt and is now owned by their son Janaki and his wife Annie Dugan. Their work paved the way for organic vegetable farming in the Lake Superior region and they have been leaders in the local food movement. The Fisher-Merritts have always farmed without chemicals, became Certified Organic in 1990, and formed the first Community Supported Agriculture operation in the area in 1994. Throughout this history, sharing what they’ve learned has been an important value at the farm.

Our root cellar design and plans will be available to all in an open-source format. Downloadable at:
foodfarm.us
farmhack.org/wiki/modern-root-cellar

Our sustainable farming practices produce vegetables of superior quality and flavor. The carrots, in particular, have gained a cult following of their own. We store our root crops with technology that we have carefully developed. Watch what happens when we compared our 8-month storage carrots along with store-bought carrots:

  

Risks and challenges

This project is more complex and site-specific than a typical energy-intensive warehouse or cooler. Because of the design complexity, there is a risk that the building will not perform as expected. To mitigate this risk, we’ve combined our 15 years of experience and good old-fashioned farm know-how with consultations from architects, engineers and building design professionals. We’re confident our team has come up with a design that achieves the twin goals of energy efficiency and ideal storage conditions.

While we will be providing some labor to get the systems up and running in the new facility, we are hiring out the majority of the work to contractors--we have a farm to run, after all! We’ve worked with these folks in the past and know first-hand that they can deliver projects on-time and on-budget even in difficult situations.

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    Food Farm CSA pick-up bags: to make sharing your box a breeze!

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    12 Root Cellars in 12 Miles! Take a guided bike tour of our neighborhood and see the history of earth sheltered storage in our community

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    A bag of the best tasting carrots around complete with limited edition label!

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    Your name stenciled on a Food Farm storage—we'll give you thanks every time we pack carrots!

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    VIP ticket package to Free Range Film Festival, including admission, free popcorn, and a guided tour of our century-old barn

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    Food Farm Swag Bag: Farm T-Shirt, postcard, sticker, newsletter

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    Guided naturalist walking tour of the farm

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    Diamond willow walking sticks handcrafted by Food Farm founder John Fisher-Merritt with help from his eager assistant Sandy Dugan and farm dog Dobby. These special sticks carry a Food Farm plaque and come with a guided naturalist walking tour of the farm

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    Original plein air artwork of Food Farm's fields by local art star Karen Owsley Nease

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    Limited Edition Winter Share - a special delivery of unique vegetables alongside our tried and true varieties presented in a specialty crate 5

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    Get your soil examined! Soil test and interpretation with John Fisher-Merritt

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    Fall Hayride for your friends & family and a movie in the Free Range Film Barn

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    Your name in dirt! Get exclusive naming rights to our new vegetable fields

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    Hall of Fame! Your name and likeness painted on the root cellar wall.

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    Name that Tomato! Work with John Fisher-Merritt as he develops a new tomato variety

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Funding period

- (29 days)