“Rebuild My Church” Capital Campaign

“Rebuild My Church” Capital Campaign

Master Facility Plan 3-D Animation

Please view the Master Facility Plan animation below and consider donating to the campaign if you wish to help. For an update on our progress, check out the video below that or here. Features of each building are explained below. (See planning, design, and construction updates on the blog here.)

Check out the animation of our latest maintenance garage design revisions:

A complete tour of the San Damiano Center, with the old maintenance garage design.

The 2020 updates from Eric on Master Facilities Plan progress:

The 2021 updates from Eric on Master Facilities Plan progress:
     Prayer Master Facilities Update (picnic shelter)
     Simplicity Master Facilities Update (San Damiano Center)
     Service Master Facilities Update (DK Garage)

A lightening-quick time-lapse of 2019 San Damiano Center construction:

We’d like to keep you in the loop on future plans for Bethlehem Farm. We have a strategy for future development of the Farm property that we believe will enhance our mission and ministry in several ways:

  • Increased safety for volunteers, Summer Servants and Caretakers
  • Increased and more effective teaching of sustainable practices–especially important as we consider the long-term health of the planet
  • Enhanced stewardship of vehicles, tools and supplies
  • More efficient use of Caretaker and volunteer time = greater mission impact
  • All of which ultimately strengthen mission of transforming lives

The Old Garden Tool Shed needed to come down, with its rotting floors, lead paint, exterior back wall tipping over, holes in the floor, and so on — this is also the best spot on the property for our maintenance garage.

As we discussed building a new garden tool shed vs getting one of the prefab garages available, tearing down the old one and building the garage there, we could see that these would be the last two major structures to “complete” the property for the foreseeable future. For this reason, we took a step back to see how many program needs and wants we could satisfy under these two roofs (making them much more useful, a bit more costly in the short term, but also making it less likely we would need to build any further major structures.) 

So, we met with architect Chip Williamson and developed a Master Facilities Plan.

The Master Facilities Plan includes:

  • In summer 2019, the outright purchase of our property–COMPLETE!
  • In summer 2019, construction of the San Damiano Center for Sustainability* to enhance our teaching of care for God’s creation through supporting our organic gardens, livestock, composting, etc.–UNDER ROOF by Oct 2019! …and work continues
  • In summer 2020s, installation of enough solar-electric panels* to provide 100% of our electricity from the sun, with battery back-up of fridges and freezers–COMPLETE!
  • In summer 2020, installation of enough solar hot water heaters* to provide 100% of our hot water demand–COMPLETE!
  • In 2020-21, construction of a maintenance garage/tool barn/wood shop/picnic shelter to support the service with the local community aspect of our mission.–UNDER ROOF by June 2021! …and interior work continues
  • In 2023, installation of an 32,000-gallon rainwater containment to collect rainwater for use in irrigation, laundry, and toilets
    *Denotes projects in partnership with the Wheaton (IL) Franciscan Sisters

Overhead view of San Damiano and Garage

An updated rendering of the overhead view of the complete Master Facilities Plan
The pavilion is a great place for outdoor meals, evening prayer, or rainy day activities.

San Damiano Center for Sustainability

San Damiano will be a learning center for the gardens and animal care, which are the essential aspects of teaching sustainable practices on the Farm. (See San Damiano construction updates here)

Outdoor Sustainability Education Area

This sunset-facing area will have picnic tables and a hand and produce washing station. It will be useful for prepping produce for the farm’s kitchen or storage, gathering small groups for the garden talk, or simply for a volunteer to enjoy the view, while journaling about their experience. There will be room on the wall for educational displays about sustainable practices and there are plans for a demonstration home-scale rainwater barrel.

Renewable Energy

San Damiano will not need much electricity, but what electricity San Damiano and the garage will use will come from the solar panels on our Retreat House roof, which will provide 100% of our electricity after the third phase is installed in 2019.

Root Cellar

The root cellar will be situated under the back-right corner of the San Damiano Center, buried into the hillside, which is perfect for the stable temperatures and humidity required for long-term food storage (taters, canned goods, carrots, cabbages, turnips, parsnips, etc.).

Composting Toilets

The Center will have composting toilets for volunteers, Summer Servants, and Caretakers while working outside. The composting toilets will contribute to the sustainable fertility of our soils.

Tractor Bay

The San Damiano Center will provide accessible bays for our tractor and its implements. We use the tractor for various tasks around the Farm, including maintenance of our half-mile access road to keep it graded and open to the varied vehicles volunteer groups bring.

Garden Tool Storage

The San Damiano Center will be central to the gardens, high tunnel, and orchard, making it a convenient location for our expanding inventory of garden tools and equipment that are required to match our expanding gardens, as well as effective organization of tools, while providing protection from the weather. Ample loft space is included in the plans for storage of bulky items such as season extension row cover and fencing that is best stored interiorly.

Livestock Shed

The placement of the San Damiano Center adjacent to the orchard makes it a perfect location for an inexpensive chicken dwelling, where watering stations, nesting boxes, and roosts can be easily provided in a more controlled setting. In addition, electricity at the site will allow for the heating of drinking water in the winter. This is also space for a potential future goat herd that would produce organic/sustainable milk and meat.

Danny Keith Maintenance Garage (Tool Barn/Wood Shop/Picnic Shelter)

This building will support the service with the local community aspect of our mission, provide for the proper care and repair of our work site vehicles, protected from the weather, and for the effective organization and storage of tools which will make us more efficient, effective, and resilient, as we extend our reach further into the local community. (See garage construction updates here)


Vehicle Storage

The maintenance garage will increase the life of our vehicles and shorten our vehicle prep time prior to leaving for work sites, which can mean the difference between completing the job that day and having to make the 90-minute round-trip to a worksite again the next day. There will also be a deep bay for storage of our 10-foot trailer, which is currently rotting and rusting out in the elements.


Tool Storage

The tool storage area will provide much needed centralized space. Current space constraints have caused our tools to be spread amongst multiple buildings, leading to inefficient pre and post work site operations. Designing a sloped roof and utilizing the loft area makes for even more storage space.


Heated High Bay with Vehicle Lift

Bethlehem Farm will be able to save thousands of dollars each year on auto repair bills through having a vehicle lift, which will allow Caretakers to effectively and safely work under vehicles year-round. The lift will give us the ability to carefully and proactively inspect for potential safety and maintenance issues.


Lawn Equipment Storage

The garage will be a much better location for our mowers, weed whackers, and chainsaws versus our past use of our high demand, high use carport.


Wood Shop

The Farm, and our clients, will benefit tremendously from the utility, efficiency, and safety of a centrally located dedicated wood shop with a dust collection system.


Picnic Shelter

There are many summer evenings when the group chooses to have evening prayer outside, whether to avoid the hot house or to enjoy the cool evening air and beautiful sunset. The picnic shelter provides this perfect location. It also provides the opportunity to have various outdoor retreat gatherings, a beautiful sunset view of the pasture, refuge from a rained-out campfire, and perhaps a location for meals or large gatherings, such as our reunion.


Wood Splitting Shed

We heat both houses primarily with wood, so splitting, stacking, and curing firewood are common and essential Farm chores. The shed roof off the north/garden side of the garage will make for a useful, inexpensive, and weather protected staging and splitting area for our firewood.


Parking Lot Expansion

A wider parking lot allows for safer and more coordinated arrivals and departures, especially for our larger group vehicles and in emergencies. It also allows for tractor trailers to safely deliver home repair and capital improvement materials directly to the property.

A view of the future maintenance garage from the Retreat House porch.

Progress Photos

See the blog for more current photos: https://bethlehemfarm.net/category/all/master_plan

May-June 2020: Grading completed

September 2020: Footers are poured, stems and anchor bolts are formed.

The footers are set, “stems” (or piers) are formed, and anchor bolts are ready to be poured.
Forms are ready to pour the “stems” (or piers) and anchor bolts on top of the footers–a cornerstone in action!