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packing shed features: ideas?

Posts: 946
Location: 6200' westen slope of colorado, zone 6
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hi all-
I have an outbuilding that I am going to furnish to be a proper packing shed. It is adjacent to the market garden, the henhouse, and the driveway, so well located for the job. It has walls and a roof, but otherwise is a blank canvas. I have water and electrical passing through the structure that I can tap into. Greywarer drainage for a sink is no problem. The space is 24x16, though I plan to use some of the area for tool storage and a workbench.

I plan to sort, wash, and pack a diverse selection of market fruits and vegetables during the summer and fall. Milk and meat handling get done elsewhere.

What are the features for a packing shed that you have found most useful? Any little details that make work smoother? I plan on a big sorting table, a washup sink, box storage, a scale. I have overhead rafters that I can hang stuff from if desirable.

Throw out your ideas, I'm all ears-
Thanks, Adam
Posts: 1703
Location: Western Washington
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SO MANY DETAILS! I may have to edit this post a few times as I think of more.

First. Direction of work/ work flow. THIS IS IMPORTANT. You don't always want to be tripping over yourself or anyone else who happens to be working with you

Questions: is this just for you/ a hobby or for production? What do you intend to be harvesting/processing? will you have a walk-in cooler?

I'd probably start with a batch tank, a good two or three stage sink, and good hoses. The kind that will strip paint when on full blast - this is nessasarry for cleaning root crops especially if you want to do many at once.

Example: For carrots (and we'd do cases and cases of carrots several times a week) we'd set them up root end out on a steel counter in a giant piramid (8feet by 4 feet at apex) and go to town with the hose.

More details please - what you're doing, what you're looking to accomplish. Any chance of a sketch? I've run many a vegi pack line

Rafters and hooks are great for drying garlic as long as you get them far enough from the spray of the hose. Work dirty to clean (duh) and spray away from things that need to be kept dry (also duh)

Hooks and eye screws tapped into your counters (or their supports if they're stainless steel) at strategic positions gives you a great place to hang your palm squeeze handled hoses

Boxes: boxes can be stored flattened on the "dry" (what a joke) side of the pack shed - grabbed two to six at a time, folded proper and packed into. Waxed boxes are far more durable than plastic coated crap.

My work flow would go something like (------------------------------- {line})

Boxes----. water supply (long hose with "palm trigger" style hose attachment) -----> counter ---> sinks---->counter-----> Batch tanks----->counter

starting on your field side and working towards your truck/walk in

Spray down the stuff that needs heavy cleaning on your counter, things that don't need heavy cleaning (lettuce, cabbage) just get a quick dip in the batch tank
Adam Klaus
Posts: 946
Location: 6200' westen slope of colorado, zone 6
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Thanks Landon, sorry I didnt respond to your detailed and helpful post, I just missed it earlier,

This is for a small commercial market garden. Usually 2 people working together. We dont have a walk in cooler, it wouldnt be cost effective for our scale and needs. Our production is small.
All drying/curing is done in an adjacent structure. We have an underground cellar that is seperate also, and is used at times, particularly fall/winter.

We harvest a big variety of fruit/veg. Spinach, berries, garlic, green beans, cukes, melons, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, potatoes, onions, peaches, apricots, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, chard, etc. Not much salad mix.

Our water pressure is gravity fed so not strong enough to blast our heavy clay off of roots. We rely on soaking and brushing to achieve that. There is water overhead in the structure, so we can have hanging hoses wherever needed.

I was thinking to use tubs for dunk sinks. They would be adjacent to a single standard sink with drain, so we can dump them out as needed. In time, we might upgrade to a multitub deep sink, but trying to keep costs down for now. A large wire mesh table for drip drying seems good.

Our workflow would flow from a loading/unloading table, then a sorting table, then a row of tubs, then a drain sink, then a wire drying table. It would be in a circular work flow, so that the first and last station were the same (the loading/unloading table). I tried downloading sketchup to make an image but my mac system 10.6.8 wont work with it.

The main objective is to streamline the packing/sorting/cleaning process that occurs between the field and the delivery truck. The structure is perfectly located for that. There wouldnt be any produce storage in the packing shed, everything would get moved on immediately after packing.

Thanks for sharing your experience, I appreciate any and all advice.
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