A Coleman cooler rediscovered.
One of the things that we're known for at the markets is our fresh greens. Harvested either the day before or the day of the market, we keep our lettuce mixes, arugula, kale, microgreens, and leafy greens in our cooler to retain the freshness of the produce throughout the markets. These procedures are essential as some of the markets can get pretty hot, and that heat and direct sun can literally cook greens left out.
However, bagging each customer's order at the time of purchase can get to be a pain and many times making customers wait as we work through the line of patrons. So at the end of
last season, I decided to come up with some way we can pre-bag the greens into pre-sized amounts, charge a single price for each, but keep them as fresh as we have in the past. After pricing electric coolers and considering the logistics of powering them, I had an epiphany...Why not come up with an air delivery system that circulated the cold air in the bottom of the cooler (down where the ice packs are) up and over the bags of greens? Luckily I have a friend that has a 3D printer and can engineer almost anything out of plastic. So after drawing up some plans for the cooler layout, I had him create a case for a 12v computer fan. This fan powered by rechargeable batteries will power the flow of air from the bottom of the cooler to the top, over the produce and then back down again to be recharged by the ice at the bottom. In theory, this should allow the cooler to act just like an opened top cooler at a grocery store.
Nothing as ugly as a blue ice chest.
I did want to make this idea as appealing as possible for the people coming to the farmer's market, not only for the fresh produce but also for the experience. I wanted to get rid of the ugly cooler...Thus my second epiphany: Why not cover the cooler with a nice stressed wood case? So for the last two weeks, I've been building a cool looking cooler.
The cooler is done except for the hinges and handles, so in the next couple of weeks I'll be assembling the fan and piping in the interior of the chest and doing some testing to see if this was worth all the effort. Make sure you check out the blog on a regular basis, so you can follow my progress.