In the interest of full transparency, I’m laying out our building plan. I also hope other small farmers in the same position can expand on some of our ideas, or even contribute to our plan. That’s what we do in agriculture. We share, we innovate, we teach.
Our commercial kitchen will be built in a 20′ Shipping Container. We expect that to be the major expense. We must pay in full, as we have to modify the shell, by cutting access holes for electric, water in and out. We will frame the inside and insulate to assist with temperature control. By placing this container very close to the east side of our storage container, we are capitalizing on shade.
The actual inside dimension will be more like 16′ x 7.5′. We’re building an inside wall with a door and window three feet inside the big doors. That will be for removing muddy boots, coveralls, etc. In the summer the window will contain a small air conditioner. We will be able to close one-half of the outside doors if the wind is blowing from the north (less than 20% of the time). When the kitchen is not occupied, we’ll close the outside double doors, and keep the Beryl dust out (critters, too.)
We are required to have a three-compartment sink for pot washing. We are also required to have a hand sink. I believe we’re going to be relieved of the mop sink, as we so small, and are doing so little prep. We will still have to sponge mop on a regular basis.
Beyond that, the walls will be painted drywall, using an epoxy paint. The ceiling may be a drop ceiling or a solid plywood ceiling, depending upon cost, and installation of our lighting fixtures. We need at least 50 lumens of light. The floor will be vinyl with a modular system of flexible coving.
Equipment we will use includes two tables, one on which to place the two induction cooking plates (less cost than that of a cheap stove, and 70% or so less energy used), room to assemble our ingredients, and then to pour off the cajeta into jars. The other table will be used for shipping products. We’ll also use this table as a portable office when not shipping product.
Additional free standing equipment includes a freezer (we found one for $80 and will pick it up this weekend), and a small refrigerator so I can store a little milk. We use the freezer to create bottle filled with ice to cool our fresh milk if we plan to store it. We may use our milk directly from our goats after filtering to make our cajeta, and that is our primary plan.
We will need storage shelving for pots, utensils, and measuring equipment. Additional storage includes a large bin for our evaporated cane juice. We save money by purchasing 50# at a time.
To conserve on costs, we are allowed to use any combination of building materials, as long as it is “easily cleanable”. That means we don’t have to use stainless steel for tables, storage shelving, etc.
By purchasing jars in bulk, we’ll get a discount (I’ve already included that in our cost analysis), and by using a single supplier, we’ll also save on fuel costs. Yes, we have to pick our products up in Cedar City, but can do that on a regular trip to Cedar City.
At this point we have reduced the commercial kitchen costs from $5100 to $4735 and may even reduce them further. The costs for equipping the kitchen was originally estimated at $5800 and has a most recent source cost of $2015.
Another component of the entire plan is to build (actually retrofit) a room for milking our goats. We’re converting the original chicken coop as it is on a concrete slab. That is a major consideration. We will frame in and insulate the walls, then finish with drywall and epoxy paint and rubberized coving. Also, we will install a hand sink, which is also large enough to clean the lines of the our little milker. Again, the original cost estimate was $2800 and has been adjusted and the sourced cost is now $1920.
As you can see, we’ve been working very hard to save money, while saving our funds for the big purchase, and to raise money for the “little things” by both offering 4 oz samples of cajeta for donations, and running the occasional Indegogo program.
We sincerely appreciate your support and are now working on the next Indegogo project, coming up with some very creative “extremely limited” rewards for your participation. Remember, you can always go to our Donate Online page to provide donations.