Keep It Cool, Keep It Fresh Farm Refrigeration Project

Woodinville, WA – While farmers and farm practices have evolved throughout the years, one thing that hasn’t changed is the need for cold storage refrigeration. Woodinville Rotary and Rotary District 5030 are working together to address this issue in the Sammamish Valley farming community with their innovative Keep it Cool, Keep It Fresh refrigeration project.

This isn’t the first time our community has taken on the challenge of providing cold storage refrigeration. As early as the late 1930s, when the effects of the depression were still strong, area co-operatives like the Grange Cold Storage Association provided refrigeration services for farmers and families needing to protect and prolong their fare. Now, almost 100 years later, faced with another era of food insecurity, people are beginning to re-embrace local food markets and farm fresh foods, while also educating themselves on their agricultural sources, sustainable living practices and climate action.

Andrew Ely, Viva Farms King County assists with the installation of the new cold storage refrigeration unit.

Organizers of the Keep It Cool, Keep It Fresh Refrigeration Project seek to aid small acreage farmers in the Sammamish Valley in their desire to bolster a sustainable food system while also supporting the environment. The project provides a cold storage unit located in the middle of the Sammamish Valley Agricultural Production District (APD), one of the most fertile valleys in the country, just 30 minutes outside of Seattle, WA.

Beginning in spring, this first of its kind refrigeration unit will be entirely solar powered, making it a uniquely off-grid farm refrigeration unit. With a generous grant from Rotary International and matching club funds from Woodinville Rotary’s Charitable Foundation, this unit will provide reliable storage for perishable products to small acreage farmers in the Sammamish Valley.  Equally important is an additional investment from A Farm in The Sammamish Valley, LLC to provide for the construction of the solar array and the associated equipment to power the unit.  We are very fortunate for this partnership with not only A Farm in The Sammamish Valley, LLC, but other community-supported organizations including 21 Acres, Sammamish Valley Alliance, Viva Farms, Woodinville Rotary and Rotary District 5030 for collaborating to bring this essential asset to local farmers.

Work continues on the interior installation of the off-grid, solar-powered refrigeration unit.

When farmed to full potential, the Sammamish Valley could supply local, organic vegetables to 80,000 people annually. These sustainable high yields are essential as climate change decreases yields in the Midwest and California. Long-practiced at producing food based on the principles of carbon sequestration and healthy soil management, Sammamish Valley farmers strive for lasting agricultural viability. As food chains become less predictable due to climate change, storms and pandemics, these local farmers serve an increasingly important role in providing food security to our community.

Woodinville Rotary and its Environmental Stewardship Committee have worked to bring non-profits and local organizations together in support of the environment, one of seven areas of focus identified by Rotary International. Bringing this focus directly into our community and addressing the pressing issues of food insecurity and food waste is more important now than ever before, as is supporting farmers that practice regenerative agriculture.

A recognition event is being planned for Earth Day 2021 to celebrate the Keep It Cool, Keep It Fresh refrigeration project in our community. For more information visit sammamishvalley.org & woodinvillerotary.org

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