By Phil Reilly for West Carleton Online

WEST CARLETON – The Deep Roots Food Hub (DRFH) is a community-based volunteer organization whose continuing efforts to develop a more locally-resilient food network is dependent on charitable donations.

Much has been accomplished in 2020 by DRFH members at the unique Davidson’s Side Road root vegetable storage cellar (near Shirley’s Bay).

“Thanks to more than 3,000 hours of volunteer labor, contributed by about 18 members of DDRFH, the root cellar is structurally completed,” the DRFH released in a statement today (Jan. 21). “A few local farmers are currently using the root cellar for storing about 4,500 pounds (2,041 kg) of carrots, potatoes, rutabagas, beets, Daikon radishes and other vegetables for distribution to their CSA customers. We are pleased to have BeetBox Farm, Our Farm CSA, Heartbeet Farm, ExerFarm, Gaia Organic Seeds, and 100 Mile Wine Inc. using the root cellar.”

The DRFH food cellar officially opened last September.

The various vegetables are being stored in a variety of containers (boxes, totes or burlap bags appropriate to the vegetable), and stacked in their containers, or placed on provided shelving, such that they have ready access to their produce for distribution to their clients.

“This root cellar is not of the historic hole-in-a-hill or home basement variety,” the DRFH said. “It is a super-insulated, above-ground, metal Quonset building which is 24 feet (7.3 m) wide by 40 feet (12 m) long.  Three 100-watt solar panels, which charge four 12-volt truck batteries, provide the electrical power needs of the root cellar.”

The humid and just-above freezing (two to four degrees Celsius) conditions of the storage chamber are regulated by monitoring sensors and fans. The plywood floor of the vegetable storage chamber has two inches (4.5 cm) of Styrofoam sheets on its underside and sits on eight inches (20 cm) concrete building blocks.

“This is designed to isolate the building’s warm gravel base, which continuously radiates heat upwards from the earth’s core’s, from the stored vegetables which require constantly cool temperatures,” the DRFH said. “Also, this raised floor allows fans to circulate always-available heat into the storage chamber during very cold periods. Cold air can also be brought directly into the produce chamber at night when daytime temperatures are warmish.”

2020 welcomed funding and material donations from supportive community members, either directly or via DRFH’s charitable partner (the Carp Health Access Foundation).

“The DRGH is pleased to acknowledge significant recent funding contributions resulting from ‘in memorium’ donations from family and friends of Kinburn-area’s Brent Schwieg,” the DRGH said. “Also, we are thankful for the donation, by Big Steel Box, of a 20-foot (six metre) shipping container for storage of various materials used throughout the year. In the past, DRFH has received significant grants from the Ottawa Community Foundation, the Greenbelt Fund, and the City of Ottawa.”

In the coming months the Deep Roots Food Hub’s board of directors will be looking to recruit people with a variety of practical skills.

“Postings for volunteers will appear on our website as needs arise,” the DRFH said. “We believe this community project, when scaled up to full capacity, will improve food security and the health of many of our local community members.”

Donations to the DRFH can be made through PayPal here.