Small Holdings Farm spinner

Michael Coolican demonstrates how one of his converted spinners works. (Goodwin photo)

Small Holdings Farm has put a new spin on the use of washing machines.

Michael Coolican, who co-owns the farm with Keltie Butler, has found a unique way to spin dry his vegetables once he has rinsed the traces of dirt from them.

“I just followed up someone else’s idea,” he said, regarding the research that led to the washer idea.

What he found were three options that included buying an entire unit, buying the parts for it, or purchasing the plans.

“I just bought the plans,” he said, while noting used washers were much cheaper than a professional spinner. “Other farmers were trying to find a way to do this without buying an expensive unit.”

Coolican bought two good used washers from two different sources to spin dry the greens they grow on the farm. They’re located on the inside wall of a lean-to attached to a shed and sufficiently protected from the elements. The produce is rinsed in a tub on the outside wall and placed in hamper-sized baskets inside the washer’s drum.

He has already converted one of the washers so it only has a spin cycle to spin-dry leafy vegetables. He also attached a shutoff button to stop the spinner if something goes wrong.

All appears to be going well with the converted washer, so the second machine will be converted soon.

“It’s been going great,” he said. “We’re really happy with it. The greens are much better than they were before.”

Coolican and Butler were using a crate to shake the excess moisture from the greens, but they found that process inadequate.

“We want them to stay good for as long as possible,” Coolican said. “The greens are better if they’re put away dry.”

This is their fifth season of operation for the farm. They grow a variety of produce in greenhouses and open fields at the farm in Millsville, near Scotsburn.


Steve Goodwin is never without his camera and a notebook. He has been covering news and sports in Pictou County for more than four decades.