Susan Owen, The Lily Patch Farm
Sorting, Storage, and Cooling Shed for Pawpaw
Grant Award: $8,000
With a 2017 AgOptions grant, Susan started a Pawpaw orchard with 30 trees (expanded to 60 trees in 2019), which are now bearing fruit for harvest – upwards of 30 pounds of fruit per tree. Susan will increase her farm’s income by building a sorting and cooling shed for storing native pawpaw fruit.
Pawpaws have to be picked when they are fully ripe (they cannot be picked “green”) and can be held in cold storage for about two weeks. This shed project will allow her to extend the shelf life of her harvest, thus increasing sales, sustainability, and the viability of The Lily Patch Farm. Without the shed, she loses almost half of harvested fruit due to spoilage each year.
The grant is paying for the construction of the shed, shelving units for storage, produce boxes and vented agricultural crates. Susan sells to customers, both retail and wholesale, and will be expanding to restaurant and brewery markets in the future. She recently has been collaborating with the ASU Fermentation Sciences Program, experimenting with fermented pawpaws in value-added foods such as kefir, yogurt, and beer.