Popcorn Processor

Project number: 
Tucson Village Farm, supported by Craig M Berge Community Project Fund
Academic year: 
Tucson Village Farm is an education-based farm for youth with a central educational theme of nutrition and healthy living. More than 15,000 children make visits annually and are provided with healthy snacks, including popcorn, which is grown on the farm.

Although kids assist with the harvesting, dekerneling, and washing of the popcorn, they cannot clean and dry all of it. Each year at harvest time, Tucson Village Farm experiences a bottleneck, with manual processing eating up many hundreds of hours of staff and volunteer time.

The team created the Popcorn Processor with the ability to run either autonomously or by human power.

The washer, similar to a laundry machine, uses a motor to spin an inner drum where kernels are thoroughly washed and chaff is removed to an outer drum. The washer can be powered by a stationary bicycle to provide a more interactive and educational experience for school groups. The dryer, similar to a chili roaster, uses a motor that spins the drum while a fan dries the kernels. The dryer also includes a hand crank for manual operation, again to enhance the educational experience. The system can clean and dry up to 5 pounds of kernels within a few minutes.

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