Appel Farms, Ferndale, Wash., moved its cheese operations to a new 12,800-square-foot production and cold storage facility, positioning it for future growth while increasing the farm’s efficiency and food security.

“We can grow a tremendous amount without running out of room,” says John Appel, who runs the cheese production operations while his wife Ruth directs retail and marketing functions.

Faber Construction, Lynden, Wash., built the unique pre-engineered steel building, which incorporates an exo-skeleton technique, placing steel columns on the outside, while utilizing insulated metal panels for exterior walls, coolers and the freezer. This created an uninterrupted interior wall around the perimeter, increasing efficient use of the space, according to Rick Faber, president of Faber Construction. The new building also includes a window for viewing gouda production.

The building also has to be capable of reaching a wide range of temperatures. Some blast freezers can get below 0°F while the dairy production coolers can get as low as 37°F and incubators as high as 108°F.

“The Appel Farms cheese plant is a one-of-a-kind facility in the Northwest Washington dairy industry,” Faber says.

Appel Farms began producing cheese 30 years ago in an 800-square-foot building on the farm founded by John’s late father Jack Appel and his mother Audrey. They added on to it and utilized adjacent buildings to accommodate growth until the family moved into a larger facility.

Cheese production currently uses more than half the milk from the farm’s 600-cow dairy herd, which is run by John’s brother Rich Appel.