We should begin by apologizing for a late update of activity and news from the farm. We have been so busy with some major infrastructure developments that time simply got away from us. However, we have not forgotten about you! In fact, our farm has undergone some major upgrades and we are very anxious and excited to share the good news with you. The past several months have really helped us turn a corner as we build our dream farm. Onwards and upwards!
Two major investments at the farm this year brought us a few steps closer to our vision for the farm. We have been functioning without any extant structures, which has been difficult to manage as we acquire new equipment and tools. We decided to invest some available capital in the farm to ensure we could ramp up production next year with a new apple orchard, organic vegetables, and potentially additional nut growing trees.
From China to Europe to Small Town Ontario
During the late summer, we purchased a twenty-foot shipping container (weighing approx. 3,000 pounds) from Ingenious Storage and Shipping Containers, a local company in Napanee. The price for a shipping container of this size can run you upwards of $2,500 Cdn but used containers vary in price based on their condition and/or any additions (i.e. vents, windows, etc.) you may add. The container was delivered from the port of Montreal (via China and Europe) and took less than a day to set up and place. In a previous post, we revealed some photos of the gravel base we built for the container. This new storage now allows us to store equipment in a dry, safe, and compact space. Since the container arrived rather beat-up we took matters into our own hands and painted the shipping container with some bright colours (inspired by Jamaica’s national colours we have been told). Here are some photos of the containers transition:
If Opportunity Doesn’t Knock, Build a Door…and a Building
The largest build project at the farm this year was the construction of the first permanent structure on our land for more than a century. We have done our best to describe this process in detail and share our experience with products, contractors, and the many middle-men who characterize purchasing almost anything these days.
We first became interested in building a structure after chatting with some locals about the best method to store equipment, materials, etc. We looked online, locally, and in all the usual and unusual places to see if we could get a good deal on a storage building. We contemplated building a wood structure but eventually settled on a steel building that would be more cost-effective, relatively environmentally friendly, sustainable (we are looking at options to capture rainwater and install solar power), and expandable down the road if need be. The time commitment for a steel building was also a huge plus.
Purchasing a steel building from Future Buildings was a unique learning experience. Opting for a building type (a Model X Type) that was 30x30x16 (W x L x H) we wanted something that would serve as an all-season space for our expanding assortment of equipment, materials, and a growing need for workspace and processing area for our future farm produce. A used structure of this size – depending on age and condition – can cost approximately $10,000 – $15,000 Cdn. Although we found a used building for sale for 10k in the area, the structure had been stored outside for seven years with a high risk of damage and rust as a result. We decided, however, to go with a brand new building directly from the company for $13,000 plus the cost of a few extra items like skylights, a door, and a track/anchor system along the foundation that eased the building process. In hindsight, and in our moment of excitement, we let the company convince us that many of these additional items were necessary. However, we now realize that those extra items could have been purchased separately for a better price elsewhere. Hindsight is 20/20.
The building process began with the excavation of the build site and preparation for a concrete foundation (30’7″ x 30’5.5″ with 18″ thick deep sides based on the blueprints). The building would eventually be bolted to the concrete with 10″ long anchor bolts. We enlisted the help of an excellent local contractor and landscaper, Roots2Roof, to help us bring this building to life.
Here are some pictures of the excavation and foundation process:
The next step in the building process involved the delivery of the steel building and assembling the hundreds of pieces used to construct the storage building. We tried to create a little suspense via Twitter back in September when the building was delivered, but we dropped the ball a little by waiting until now to reveal. We trust you will forgive.
The instruction manual provided by the company was helpful up to a point. There were many ad hoc solutions required during the build like specific cuts to the metal pieces so that they would fit more evenly. Additional bolts and screws were also required to provide a stronger and more secure connection. A big concern with the manual was that it suggested a certain order of assembly that simply did not work with the building type we acquired. For example, the manual suggested assembling the arches prior to raising them into position. This proved to be both dangerous and impossible in the presence of wind or a smaller work crew. In addition, having the right equipment and tools such as scaffolding, impact guns, and a lot of patience proved to be invaluable. That said, we adapted quickly as the build progressed and we luckily had a lot of help along the way.
Here are few photos detailing the next phase of our build project:
The Finishing Touches
The good news is that we completed our building project just as the first snow arrived in our area. We had a garage door installed, replaced any loose bolts, and cleaned the interior. Our next phase will be to install a rain capture system and cistern, have a wood burning stove installed, and shelving, a workshop, and solar powered lights. The work may never end but each step brings us one step closer to becoming a valued member of Ontario’s family-run farms bringing quality organic produce to a market near you. We can’t wait to share with you more exciting developments come spring.
Here are a few images of some of the final touches to our storage building: