By Emma Dosch
Weavers Way Farms has a new salad spinner!
Some readers may already be familiar with our process for washing and packing baby greens, but for those who are not: after harvesting baby greens, we submerge them in water to wash away any dirt. Then we drain them, spin out the remaining water and pack them into large containers for our CSA or into retail bags to sell in the stores. (CSA is Community Supported Agriculture. It’s a subscription for a weekly pickup of vegetables and fruit from the farm.)
For years, we have used a 5-gallon hand-cranked salad spinner. It looks big, but not for spinning over 100 pounds of greens a week! So, inspired by other small farmers (with help from how-to videos on the Internet), we converted an old washing machine into a giant salad spinner!
Here’s how we did it:
1. We found a broken washing machine that still had a working motor. (Thank you to our friends at the Philadelphia Outward Bound School for the donation! Or did we just haul their trash away?)
2.We removed the control panel from the top of the machine, cutting away all of the wires that control temperature, timing, load size, etc.
3.We also removed the top of the machine, including the lid, to have full access to the stainless-steel drum.
4.We took out the agitator from the center of the steel drum.
5.Getting some help from friends (and their friends) who understand washing machine motors, we wired ours to a five-minute timer that functions as an on/off switch. Turning the switch kicks the machine into the spin cycle, and the motor automatically switches off when the timer does. Thanks to the Scotts — Blunk (Henry Got Compost) and Moser (Saul High School) — for helping with this step! (Ed. Note: Scott Blunk runs the composting program at Saul. Scott Moyer runs the dairy barn.)
6.Then we affixed a strip of foam window insulation inside the narrowest part of the stainless steel drum to hold a 12-gallon basket snugly. We have lots of 12-gallon baskets, so we can be spinning one while we’re filling another with greens to be spun.
The salad spinner makes our washing and spinning go much faster. It’s easier on our arms, too! And since it spins faster and longer, it does a better job removing water from the greens, and drier greens will last longer in your refrigerator.
We also saved the $2,000 a comparable commercial machine would have cost. We spent around $75, mostly for the baskets and timer, and earned considerable DIY cred.
Observant Weavers Way Farms baby greens fans may notice a change in our retail bags. We increased our bag size from 4 to 5 ounces. We figure this should save us 1,400 bags and 175 sheets of labels throughout the season, not to mention 12 hours of bagging time. Our new size and price are the same as other organic brands like Olivia’s and Organic Girl, but ours are local, fresher and will last longer! We are eagerly anticipating selling more baby greens at the stores than ever before since we are no longer at Headhouse Market.
Emma Dosch is the “Henry Got Crops” Field Manager for Weavers Way. “Henry Got Crops” is a name “they let the kids vote on years ago.” The word “Henry” refers to Henry Avenue. Area residents can buy produce straight from the farm at the Henry Got Crops Farm Market, 7095 Henry Ave., across the street from Saul High School, open noon-7 p.m., Tuesday and Friday, now through October. This article is reprinted, with permission, from The Shuttle, Weavers Way’s monthly newspaper. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org