The Food Bank Farm and Gardens of Jefferson County are continuing a fund raising campaign to purchase two residential size freeze dryers. initially during a pilot project we will be freeze drying only produce grown locally and given to the food banks by grocery stores or other suppliers.
This pilot project will:
- Reduce Waste – The freeze dryer pilot project will help us reduce the amount of wasted food. Hundreds of pounds of fresh produce and fruit come into food banks during the three months of peak harvest and not all can be given away before it spoils.
- Create a Food Reserve – A freeze dryer will allow us to create a supply of food for winter months, when very little fresh produce comes in. If fresh produce or canned produce (which has a shorter shelf life than freeze dried) is not available, the freeze dried produce can be distributed.
- Assure a Supply of High Nutritional Value Food – Freeze drying preserves 96% of the original food value of the fresh food, a higher percentage than canning or dehydrating. Freeze drying can also produce a reconstituted product that is more attractive and closer to fresh than canning or dehydrating, or even frozen. Additionally, freeze dried food does not require special storage units or electricity.
The dryers we plan to purchase are large stainless models from HarvestRight, with a maximum annual capacity of 2,500 lbs. These are commercially rated models (required for placement in a licensed kitchen, a health department requirement). We will gather data during the 2-year pilot project and use this data to plan and implement phase 2, which includes further development of freeze drying locally. One goal of phase 2 is to establish and foster a small business based on freeze drying. Another is to acquire a mobile facility that would provide small batch processing capability (canning, dehydrating, and freeze drying) to small farmers, allowing them to create a value-added marketable product. The mobile facility would also serve as an educational platform for local schools and agricultural extension, demonstrating and teaching food preservation on location.
The cost of the pilot project will be $20,000. The final cost of phase 2 is yet to be determined, but will be in the neighborhood of $75,000.
Your donation will be 100% dedicated to this specific project.
Updated June 1, 2020