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Extension > Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships > Central > Local Produce Solar Dehydration

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Local Produce Solar Dehydration

Purpose

The project will demonstrate the commercial feasibility of adding value to local produce through solar dehydration. The project pursues the need for using renewable and clean energy to create a sustainable income stream and jobs in Central Minnesota rural communities as well as making better use of produce which might otherwise be wasted. Drying foods has long been one of the most effective ways to preserve food and the project research aims to better understand this process at a commercial scale.

Partners

  • University of Minnesota
  • Community Members
  • Central MN Women Shine
  • Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota
  • RREAL
  • Happy Dancing Turtle
  • AURI
  • Minnesota Department of Health
  • Minnesota Department of Agriculture

Activities

  1. Dehydrator operators and community collaborators meet to decide on top three produce items to dry.
  2. Dehydrator operators meet to agree upon product source and drying schedule.
  3. Dehydrator operators dry product and document dehydrator performance as well as weather conditions.
  4. Coordinate with local community groups for taste testing.
  5. Document tasting results at local gatherings.
  6. Project collaborators meet to discuss project direction.

Outcomes

  1. Meeting will allow produce chosen for this project to be prioritized.
  2. Data collection and analysis will improve dehydrator design for scale up later in project.
  3. Gain a wider perspective of making dehydrated products marketable.
  4. Optimal solar dehydrator design chosen.
  5. Pace/scope of scale up determined.
  6. Initial market analysis direction selected.
  7. Project summary put together and disseminated.

Funding

$14,000

Leveraged resources

Participating Farms - $6,500; Project leader - $2,000; University of Minnesota - $500

Last updated 12-23-2015

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