New Green-Built Homes Will Make Farm Interns More Comfortable

Morales Farm sign KDInternships can be the backbone of someone’s career or professional path. If you are, or were, on a so-called white-collar track, it might mean working in an office setting, and performing everything from mundane tasks like running for coffee to doing research, or assisting with an important project.

On the flip side, if you are or were a blue-color intern, you’d more than likely be doing some sort of apprenticeship in a whole slew of different trades, such as learning the basics of being a carpenter, electrician, plumber, shipbuilder, technician or some other crucial skilled worker occupation.

On Bainbridge Island, our own Friends of the Farms (FotF) nonprofit has recently completed the construction of three tiny homes on the publicly owned Morales Farm, just off of Lovgreen Road. These nicely appointed structures are designed to house “farm interns,” who will live in these domains while learning the ins and outs of sustainable farming and agriculture on one of the island’s handful of working farms.

Project reHOME 3 photo by David White CohenOn a recent Saturday morning, scores of locales endured pouring rain while touring the colorful and award winning reHOME Project, built with mostly recycled products. The “Re” in this case stands for “resilience” and “regeneration,” and represents a combination of green building design and reduced construction waste.

The project, initiated by Bainbridge architect Matthew Coates of Coates Design and Jeff Clark of Clark Construction, with help from the Housing Resources Bainbridge, is a 2022 American Institute of Architects Design award winner.

Project reHOME 5 photo by David White CohenMore than 60 volunteers contributed their time to building the homes and a long list of local businesses donated material and services to make it happen. They include Airflow Heating, Benjamin Moore Paint, Bird Electric, Brown Wheeler Engineers, Builders Source, Clark Construction, Coates Design, E&R Landscaping, Henley Construction, Indigo Architecture, Kiewit Construction, Lupe deLuna Landscape, M&R Windows, Monkey Wrench, OTWB Project Management, Peninsula Paint, Randy Kan, Resysta, Rivulet, RNW Distribution, Star Rental, Sunset Concrete, Tori Withington, Organization & Downsizing, and When Pigments Fly Painting.

Project reHOME 4 photo by David White CohenBecause of the generosity of these businesses and the volunteers, the cost of construction was just $265,000 – a drop in the bucket compared with what it would cost to build a typical Bainbridge Island home these days.

Morales Farm Re-Home crew - Marty Sievertsen, Spencer Hicks, and Rachele Turnbull from Clark Construction, Matthew Coates and Kiley Brennan from Coates Design Architects, Tina Gilbert from Housing Resources Bainbridge, and MaryClare Kellett and Heather Burger from FotF“We are tremendously grateful to COBI (the City of Bainbridge Island) to allow the reHome team to construct the tiny homes,” said Heather Burger, Executive Director of Friends of the Farm. “The professionals in the COBI Building, Planning and Permitting departments (went) above and beyond to help us navigate new territory as we embraced green technology, and reduced construction waste by using repurposed and recycled materials.”

The three tiny homes will replace an existing three-bedroom home on the Morales Farm property that will be converted into a common area for the interns and used for Morales Farm original farmhousecooking, laundry and flex space, said Becca Hanson, chair of Friends of the Farm, who was on hand to greet visitors.

“People have been living in the existing home for 10 years,” Hanson noted. But “Matthew and Jeff came to (us) from HRB and wanted to move forward with this project.”

Local farmers, people interested in farming, or off-island farmers, who serve Bainbridge one way or another, sponsor the farm interns –typically college students studying agriculture. Depending on the time of year, there are between eight and 12 farm interns working locally. During winter months, any interns on board are working part-time and helping with doing maintenance and any projects that might arise, Hanson said.

Project reHOME 3 photo by David White CohenBesides the donated materials and labor, Friends of the Farm also received more than $145,000 in private donations. Some of those funds came from John Chang, whose dedicated contribution made it possible for the organization to build one of the three tiny houses that is accessible to interns who may be physically challenged.

“You’re not only making farming happening,” Chang told Hanson in passing, “you’re making community happen.”

Hanson, herself a landscape architect, said farm interns will officially start residing in the tiny houses sometime next March. “It took a lot of communication to (reach) a desire to get something good done,” she said, and now “we can pass the credit around.”

Project reHOME photo by David White CohenJudging by the finished products, there’s a whole bunch of nonprofits and businesses that deserve a pat on the back for pulling of this new community project.

Photographs of interior and exterior Project reHOME buildings by David White Cohen

For more information on Friends of the Farm visit:

To learn more about Morales Farm, visit our website: Morales Farm – A remarkable place full of remarkable people! | THE ISLAND WANDERER

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