This report is an analysis of the potential development of cool, cold, and frozen storage facilities as part of a larger food hub development at Whiting Farm in Auburn, Maine. Whiting Farm is a small farm with its focus split between growing a variety of vegetables for local food banks and farm stand sales, providing educational opportunities for the developmentally disabled clients of John F. Murphy homes and for students in Lewiston and Auburn, as well as creating other community partnerships to bring as many organizations and individuals on site to gain agricultural experience as possible. The goal of developing a food hub at Whiting Farm centered around cool, cold, and frozen storage is to give local farmers who don’t have the financial means to install their own storage facility the ability to store their produce in a reliable way. This can substantially increase their profits and would allow them to potentially expand their farm’s production. Our research began with a literature review and online research, but we primarily focused on connecting with as many relevant people and organizations as possible through personal communications. We spoke to local farmers, food hubs throughout Maine and New England, and food systems consultants who work in Maine and across the country.
From this research, we’ve determined that creating a food hub focused on storage, while possible, is very difficult and more food hubs have failed than succeeded in becoming viable businesses in Maine. We intend this report to serve as an aggregation of all of the information needed for Whiting Farm to make decisions about what types of storage to build and the best practices for doing so. This report includes analyses of several case studies of failed food hubs, recommendations for the layout and facility specifics for the refrigerated section of the food hub, a contact list of local farmers and other possible partners, an analysis of the potential profitability of the storage rental space, a guide to the storage of specific fruits and vegetables, and summary accounts of each conversation we had along the way.
McGonagle, Madeline; Eickhoff, Ayden; and Kenny, Hugh, "Whiting Farm Cold Storage Assessment" (2017). Community Engaged Research Reports. 45.