Editor’s Note: This past fall, to celebrate the 15th anniversary of our Farm to Fork program, Bon Appétit gave away $50,000 in grants to our local farmers, fishermen, and artisans around the country to help them grow their business.The 10 “Fork to Farm” grant recipients were selected from 25 finalists by our guests and teams at all our locations, with more than 26,000 people casting votes! Read all about the program and the winners here, or check out the previous updates.
Certified Organic growers Ryan and Sarah Voiland have more than 100 acres, but Red Fire Farm‘s location in Montague, MA, means a relatively short growing season. They’ve been exploring ways to provide year-round produce to their customers, and this requires some creativity and funds. So far, they’ve been doing some winter growing in greenhouses and high tunnels, but they also have a big focus on storing root vegetables all winter long.
Over the last few years, they have renovated their packing barn and added capacity for storing about 100 pallets of produce each fall. But they needed a better way (other than using the tractor and forklifts) to move pallets out of basement storage (where the 60-pallet storage chamber is) and into the upstairs washing and packing area each winter. They designed plans to make a pallet-sized trap door in the ceiling of the storage chamber (the floor of the upstairs) so they could then use an electric pallet lifter as an elevator to lift pallets upstairs without having to fire up the diesel tractor on cold winter days. This will greatly improve the efficiency of their wintertime produce washing and packing operations.
Thanks to the Fork to Farm grant, they’ve been moving these dream plans to reality. Ryan recently revealed that these projects are complete. The ramp has been re-poured with new concrete, the pallet elevator is functioning, and two additional storage chambers have been built. Although they need to finish building a loading dock deck around the storage chambers, that’s on hold until spring brings better weather.