patel-13Sunil Patel, Patchwork Urban Farms

Cold Storage Establishment
Grant Award: $3,000

Sunil has renovated a root cellar to be a walk-in cooler for produce storage to expand his Community Supported Agriculture venture. He is using a CoolBot, which transforms rooms that are cooled with air conditioning units into cold storage facilities, allowing insulated spaces to get to 33 to 40 degrees.

Patchwork Urban Farms is a multi-plot farm, currently about one acre, spread over 10 sites within Asheville. The farm includes 55 chickens and 15 ducks, which produce eggs for sale.

The walk-in cooler is at Pearson Garden, owned by Bountiful Cities Project, a non-profit organization that is incubating Patchwork. Pearson Garden is the site of Patchwork’s processing room, greenhouse, and tool storage area. A concrete block structure is available to house the 9-foot by 9-foot walk-in cooler. It is built in the earth to provide root cellar conditions. Sunil has insulated the inside, installed an inner sheathing, put in an insulated door, built shelving, wired electricity, and finished a concrete floor for an entrance way.

“Being a multi-plot farm, the logistics of harvesting from multiple sites all in one day become difficult with a limited labor supply,” Sunil said. “With centralized cold storage, we will be able to harvest things while doing general farm work at sites rather than having to make special trips for harvest. Cold storage will also allow us to lengthen the available storage time between sales.”

With the cooler addition, Community Supported Agriculture distributions can be on a looser timeframe, which boosts marketability of the shares. The cooler also helps Patchwork offer high quality produce, which in turn increases customer satisfaction.

Patchwork currently sells to a 45-member CSA, restaurants, the French Broad Food Coop, and at a roadside stand that is open two days a week. “We are focused on developing a customer base which is primarily comprised of city residents so that they can form a lasting connection with the farm,” Sunil said. “We are making strides toward food security for our city.”

“Patchwork is aimed at becoming a multi-operational, multi-enterprise farm that integrates growers, landowners, workers and neighborhoods into a viable food system which feeds the city in a significant way while providing jobs for city residents,” he said. “In this vision, centralized produce storage systems would dot the entire city, benefiting the agriculturally based businesses that utilize them.”

Look up Patchwork on Facebook.


Buncombe County

Contact the Local Extension Agent