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Building cool infrastructure in New Mexico

Innovative cold storage increases farm revenue and food availability for communities

LJI shed converted to walk-in cooler
LJI shed converted to walk-in cooler Photo: Patrick Jaramillo / AFSC

One of the ways AFSC works in New Mexico is by helping to develop needed infrastructure on farms and in communities. We work with small scale farmers, community members and organizations who grow food to increase access to healthy, local food by those who need it in our communities.

We have built over thirty passive solar cold frames, installed dozens of drip irrigation systems, built wash and pack stations, and constructed five walk-in cold storage units in eight counties across New Mexico. This infrastructure work is a big part of the technical assistance and the training and demonstration components of the program.

Last month AFSC-NM completed a cold storage unit at the Los Jardines Institute (LJI), a community organization and longtime partner of AFSC-NM located in the South Valley of Albuquerque. They are a member of the Agri-Cultura Network, a farmer-owned cooperative incubated by AFSC, which has been providing food to Albuquerque Public Schools and, recently, to various food banks and pantries through our Farm to Food Bank program. 

This cold storage was built as part of a training for the LJI interns, infrastructure development for the LJI agriculture program, and as a demonstration of appropriate technology. The infrastructure was needed to increase productivity of the farm, increase revenue for the farmers, and increase available food in the community. This type of cold storage is a low-cost and a viable option for small-scale farmers.

It is possible thanks to a recent innovation by a farmer in Kentucky who built a piece of equipment, called a CoolBot, that allows a person to use a standard window mounted air conditioner to cool the storage area to near freezing temperatures. The cold storage was made by building a room inside an existing tool shed, insulating the room, and installing the air conditioner and CoolBot.

Inside the LJI shed with A/C and CoolBot. (Photo: Patrick Jaramillo)