Carmody Donates Space for Produce Storage

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Comfort Food Community knew that it had a problem coming into this growing season. Each year, it was receiving and distributing more produce than the year before, much of it produce grown at local farms. In 2016, 17,000 pounds of produce were recovered from local farms. When food ordered from the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York is factored in, over 100,000 total pounds of perishable food was received, stored and distributed.

Executive Director, Devin Bulger, commented, “We barely got through the season last year. With attendance at the Cossayuna and Greenwich Pantries staying steady at 100 households per week and the Fresh Food Pantry program set to expand, I knew we needed to find a different type of space to handle the produce.”

In early spring, Comfort Food Community began to put out feelers in the community to see if there might be a location that met its needs – it didn’t take long for them to get a response. Mark Flory, Director of Battenkill Community Services, a partner of Comfort Food Community on several food projects, suggested that CFC reach out to J.C. Carmody.  Mark made the introduction and J.C. was immediately interested.

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They toured a few different sites and evaluated them based on the features CFC needed: water, electric, an ability to construct a walk-in cooler, accessible to vehicles for easy loading and unloading and protection from the elements. After careful consideration, the consensus was that the rear portion of a barn that J.C. owns along Route 40 would be ideal – with a little imagination and a lot of hard work.

When the conversation turned to costs, J.C. was adamant – he would cover the costs of the renovations and would waive any rental fee for the use of the space – CFC would only be expected to handle the construction of the walk-in cooler and the outfitting of the space. “I’ve been aware of the work that Comfort Food and BCS are doing and really admire the difference that they are making in the community,” J.C. stated. “Carmody Ford has a long tradition of giving back to the community – this seemed like a great project to continue that tradition.”

The work began immediately. The barn was gutted down to the beams, re-framed, re-sided, new windows were installed, an overhead door was installed, a concrete floor was poured on one half of the barn and crushed stone was laid down in the rest of the barn. Meanwhile, CFC and its volunteers, led by Kevin Kelleher, set to work outfitting the space and constructing the walk-in cooler. The cooler is designed to use a Coolbot and normal household air conditioner as the refrigerating mechanism. The Coolbot reprograms the air conditioner so that it can cool down to refrigerator temperatures; the cooler features rigid foam insulation and is caulked and taped to seal in the cold air.

After months of hard work, the site is ready for use and it has been critical to Comfort Food’s fresh food operations. Bushels of farm fresh produce have been washed, packed and stored at the site, allowing CFC to distribute more fresh produce than ever before.