As the growing season winds down and the harvest is nearly done, Chris Link of the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy is offering a two-part workshop on a project he’s excited to share: building a mobile walk-in cooler.
Using the CoolBot, a tool that overrides air conditioner temperature sensors to cool a space to as low as 38 degrees, Link says farmers, market gardeners and others can build an efficient and affordable cooler for use on the farm, for transport to market or other purposes.
Link first encountered a mobile cooler built using a CoolBot on a farm in Massachusetts a few years ago. Locally, he’s helped build a cooler for Second Spring Market Garden, which is located on the SAHC property in Alexander. Second Spring uses its 6-by-10-foot trailer cooler to transport produce to two farmers markets, 13 restaurant wholesale customers and the 50 members of its community-supported agriculture program.
At the first of two sessions, Link explains, workshop participants will start off with classroom instruction about the technical aspects of the project. After an hour or two, they’ll move outside and get busy cutting a hole in the side of a trailer for an air conditioner. Over the course of the two workshops, Link will also demonstrate configuring the CoolBot, building a structure to support the air conditioner, insulating the trailer and cladding the interior. He will provide guidelines for achieving the right balance among the size of the trailer, the size of the air conditioner, the amount of insulation and the interior storage space of the finished cooler.
The cost of the walk-in cooler trailer Link will build in the class will be around $3,000, he says, which is less than half the cost of a commercial cooler of comparable size.
A list of the potential uses for the CoolBot technology is available on the company’s website at www.storeitcold.com. In addition to agriculture, some of the uses include coolers for hunting, floral design, mortuary and wine storage.
Link stresses that no special skills or equipment are needed to take part in the workshop. The sessions will be held on Sunday, Oct. 9 and Sunday, Oct. 23, 1-5 p.m. at the SAHC Community Farm, 180 Mag Sluder Road, Alexander. The cost is $20 per session, and pre-registration is required at 490-2565 or firstname.lastname@example.org.