Old Dominion Organic Farms pivots into fresh produce
Jordan Brandon’s father and grandfather focused their farming efforts on tobacco and a handful of crops grown to eventually become animal feed. After taking over the family business 10 years ago, Brandon made a pivot into fresh produce.
“I was looking to diversify and ensure that our farm was sustainable. While moving into new ventures, I wanted to use the infrastructure that was already in place from tobacco farming. With the changes in the market, organic produce proved to be a good fit.”
Of the 2,000 acres of farmland at Old Dominion, Brandon says about 200 are used for produce. “This is our third year with organic produce, so we are really just getting started,” he added.
Brando said most of the produce goes to Wegman’s and two nearby wholesalers. Old Dominion currently grows greens beans, a variety of tomatoes, bell peppers, fall squash, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, pumpkins and cabbage.
Brandon wanted to ensure that his facilities could not only house all produce but cool it properly as well. He began to research the best way to keep the produce cool as it came in from the field and waited to go to market.
Brandon first briefly looked into hydro-coolers, but found they weren’t the right fit for a variety of reasons. That’s when he began researching forced-air cooling.
“It seemed like the reasonable answer even though a lot of people were trying to talk me out of it,” Brandon said. “They said that it wouldn’t work…that you couldn’t cool produce that quickly with just air.”
During his research, Brando came across Global Cooling Inc. The Philadelphia-based forced-air cooling specialists convinced him to give it a try with their portable Jet-ready Precooler.
“Cooling something in thermodynamics,” said Brandon. “We just needed to move a bunch of air, and Global Cooling has the product to do that.”
Build with two, ten-horsepower motors supplying the power to two specially designed fans, the forced-air cooling tunnels moves twice as much as air as the standard farm-built unit. It’s portable and can be conveniently placed in an existing cold storage room.
“Now with the forced-air cooler, we can easily cool 10 pallets of cabbage to temperature in about an hour and a half,” Brandon said. “Our buyers have definitely been able to see a difference in our product.”
“I’m so glad Jordan reached out and put his faith in us,” said Jim Still, Global Cooling`s president and founder. “I knew our Jet Precooler was the perfect fit for his work.”