San Damiano Center for Sustainability: Framing in progress, Part III

San Damiano Center for Sustainability:
Framing in Progress, Part III

by Eric Fitts, Director

A shortened ordinary week meant only three days on site, but we had the loft floor decking complete by Tuesday at lunch, north wall blocking finished by the end of the day, first floor north wall sheathing complete on Wednesday, and first floor south and west wall sheathing complete on Thursday, so we made the most of the little time we had and were rewarded with progress that was visually apparent.

This week’s crew included Kevin Truong, Jake Harper, Grace Pallissard, Claire Sofronas, and newest Caretaker Gemma Stanton, with an afternoon cameo from Lindsey Meyer on her last week here.

In the next couple weeks, we’ll have groups from Nashville, Chicago, Towson, Jersey City, and Indiana who will be helping sheath the east wall, frame out the loft stairs, frame the north and south gable walls, and begin on posts for the livestock shed as well as rafter posts and headers, followed by roof rafters.

loft floor decking is complete after less than two days of work!
a new Summer Servant is on the scene
North wall sheathing begins on June 26th
The foreman in action
North wall sheathing completed in one day!
With some extra help from Lindsey, who also helped set anchor bolts in the foundation a few weeks back.
The interior begins to take shape.
South and west wall sheathing completed on June 27th.
Picnic shelter/educational area/garden produce processing station begins to take shape.
And the east wall begins…
Grace has been a workhorse on the project–we’ll miss you!

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San Damiano Center for Sustainability: Framing in progress, Part II

San Damiano Center for Sustainability:
Framing in Progress, Part II

by Eric Fitts, Director

When we last left off, we were in the midst of installing headers and just beginning to get a few joists in. Up until this point, primarily Caretakers and Summer Servants had worked on site, as the detail work and post placement did not lend itself well to large groups. Last Friday, Kevin asked when we were going to get a crew of participants for a group week. I had not really given that enough thought until that moment, especially since our home repair waiting list is so long that I wanted most of our energy focused outward. Then Will and I talked it over and decided to break the group into 6 crews instead of 5, so everyone could be happy. A sixth work crew can be difficult to manage the transportation, but the Farm Crew walks 25 yards to work each morning, so that made it even easier.

During this group week, we installed the remaining loft floor headers, hoisted all the joists into place, nailed in most of the joists, completed the blocking on the rim joists, and laid 4/5 of the 3/4″ Advantech for the loft floor decking–quick and sure progress!

One evening, as I was installing a few more blocks before supper, I came to my last block and climbed a ladder that had been off to the side most of the day. On the top rung, there sat a toad or frog of some sort, blue and green. He or she did not flinch as I air-nailed that last block, allowed Clare to come close to say hi, and allowed me to snap the photo below. We figure it was St. Francis or St. Clare smiling on our project 😉

Many thanks to everyone who has donated time, talent, and treasure to bring us this far!

Next up…complete the loft floor and begin sheathing the first floor walls.

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San Damiano Center for Sustainability: Framing in progress, Part I

San Damiano Center for Sustainability:
Framing in Progress, Part I

by Eric Fitts, Director

An update is overdue!

The Shelter-Kit framing kit arrived on a 54-foot truck and trailer with 33,000 lbs of materials. Since the truck could not get up our 1/2-mile driveway, it took all afternoon and the next morning to get the materials up the driveway and positioned near the site (thanks to Mark Solak, with help from Will, Grace, and Joey, fresh from the eastbound train).

The anchor bolts were being set as the materials arrived and framing was able to begin the next week. We are about 10 days in now and have framed out all four exterior walls, set the rim joists, set all interior posts and all four posts for the open-air educational area (left, west side of site), set a couple of floor headers for the left, and set a few floor joists in place for the loft.

Almost everyone has helped to at least raise a wall section and we have had a dedicated crew each week. So far, Cece, Lindsey, Kat, Gabby, Joey, Grace, Kevin, Leah, and others I am forgetting at this late hour have helped for at least one full day, if not much longer. Kevin Truong is our ETHOS intern from the University of Dayton Engineering Department’s service program, so he will see a huge chunk of the project over the course of a full summer, more on his story later.

Thanks for all the support. If you know anyone interested in helping this project come to fruition or who wants to come and help for a week, then send them our way! Donations can be made at bethlehemfarm.net/rmccc

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San Damiano Center for Sustainability: Foundation Complete, Part XI

San Damiano Center for Sustainability:
Foundation Complete, Part XI

by Eric Fitts, Director

The crew from Solak Builders was back to make some relief cuts in the slab, begin some block work around the rain water hydrant for the chicken coop, and lay the last 2 courses of block on top of the slab to create a knee wall for the framing to sit upon (so there is no wood at ground level, which will leave it less exposed to rot). The framing kit arrives from Shelter-Kit on May 23rd (20 pallets of materials on a 48-ft flatbed truck!). We’ll epoxy our anchor bolts into the foundation and begin framing!

Meanwhile, we are holding Eric and Jeremy close in prayer, as well as Will & Roni, as each needs us to lift them up a bit this week.

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San Damiano Center for Sustainability: foundation in progress, Part X

San Damiano Center for Sustainability:
Foundation in Progress, Part X

by Eric Fitts, Director

The day finally arrived to pour the slab for San Damiano. Vapor barrier was placed down (to protect the contents of the building from rust due to condensation from the ground), forms put up, and we were ready for 4 cement trucks carrying 8 cu yds of concrete each. A “little” left over at the end meant that we could also pave the educational area on the left side.

Many thanks to Eric Franklin and Mark Solak of Solak Builders for setting up the pour and to Steve Amick, Mike and Dillon of SAA Builders of Rainelle for their masterful job pouring and finishing the slab–not easy work, especially on yet another unseasonably warm and sunny day.

Next up: Solak Builders returns to make the relief cuts in the slab, run two more courses of block on top of the slab, and set the bolts for the posts and sill plates.

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San Damiano Center for Sustainability: foundation in progress, Part IX

San Damiano Center for Sustainability:
Foundation in Progress, Part IX

by Eric Fitts, Director

The final course of block before the slab gets poured is in place, corrugated metal has been installed over the composting toilet bins and root cellar for the slab to pour over top of them, and forms have been placed and braced along the back to hold the wet concrete in place until it sets.

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San Damiano Center for Sustainability: foundation in progress, Part VIII

San Damiano Center for Sustainability:
Foundation in Progress, Part VIII

The San Damiano Center foundation project is hitting the home stretch. Solak Builders has added more labor onto the project, which has sped progress. Thanks to Eric, Travis, Josh and Nathan, who have been on site essentially since the beginning and to Zach, Joe, Mark, and Josiah, who have joined the project recently. The block is nearly all up to grade and backfill is almost complete. Composting toilet bins are nearly complete, as is the root cellar.

It is looking like we’ll be ready to pour the slab on Wednesday, followed by digging trenches to run electric and water out to the site, as two courses of block are laid on top of the slab.

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San Damiano Center for Sustainability: foundation in progress, Part VII

San Damiano Center for Sustainability:
Foundation in Progress, Part VII

The final footer has been poured (supervised by 5-year-old Isaiah), courses of block continue on up, footer drains complete, root cellar deepens, openings into composting toilet bins and root cellar get their lintels, volunteers pour concrete into retaining walls. Soon, we will be ready for the slab to be poured!

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San Damiano Center for Sustainability: foundation in progress, Part VI

San Damiano Center for Sustainability:
Foundation in Progress, Part VI

The Caretakers carved out some time in the midst of spring group season to lend a hand on the foundation work: filling retaining walls with concrete mix (watch out for that dust!) and laying the block walls to separate the compost bins beneath the composting toilets. Thanks to Will and Farmer Tim for the coaching and for plenty of work on the site as well.

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San Damiano Center for Sustainability: foundation in progress, Part V

San Damiano Center for Sustainability:
Foundation in Progress, Part V

The crew from Solak Builders, Travis, Eric, Josh, and Nathan, has been hard at work this week.

The foundations for the chicken coop/livestock shed and Outdoor Sustainability Education Area continue to take shape. The retaining wall continues on up, as the root cellar deepens, and Caretakers begin on compost toilet bin dividers, with the instruction of Will and Farmer Tim.

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