Everyone knows how refrigeration works, right? There’s a big white box in our kitchens called a fridge, and it keeps stuff cold. Above the fridge is the freezer, where things are even colder. By the time we’re three, we know one door is for the orange juice, and the other for the ice cream. What’s so complicated?
Of course, we all know there’s more to it than that. But on a basic level, a standard 18 cubic foot refrigerator and a 3,200 cubic foot walk-in freezer (see below) are remarkably similar. They both depend on insulation, compressors, refrigerant and blowers to function. It’s like comparing a Mini Cooper to a tractor trailer: the concepts are the same, but you’ll never see a Mini towing a tanker of fresh milk.
As a farmer who sells his food directly to the public, the importance of reliable refrigeration can hardly be overstated. Food safety requires proper temperatures, but I also need space to receive, organize and pack my products. Just like a restaurant or a supermarket, having a large refrigerated space is crucial for farmers’ markets sales, or for CSA farms keeping product cold in advance of weekly pick ups. The following is a photo-blueprint of how we built our own walk-in from scratch, using standard 2X4 construction, our own labor, and two specialists who helped perfect it.