Please help me build a health department-approved kitchen for on-farm cooking/cheesemaking workshops and more!
Who I Am:
My name is Suzanne McMinn. I live on a farm. I'm a writer, teacher, photographer, and milk maid. I write a website called Chickens in the Road, and through my website, I share my ideas, crafts, recipes, and lessons learned in my adventures in self-sustainable living. A few years ago, I started bringing my readers to the farm for parties and demonstrations.
Last year, I launched the Chickens in the Road Retreat, hosting two days of old-fashioned cooking and craft workshops at a nearby 4-H facility.
The retreat is now an annual event with the second retreat coming in September 2012. But one retreat a year isn't enough. I want to reach a wider audience all through the year and bring people to the farm, not just for parties and demonstrations, but for full-scale workshops and more. To hold these workshops, activities, and events at the farm, I must have a health department-approved kitchen.
This is required by law in order to offer cooking classes and to serve meals.
I need your help to renovate the 500 square foot separate studio building on my farm into a health department-approved kitchen. Sassafras Farm, the home of Chickens in the Road, is conveniently located only 8 miles from Interstate 79 in Roane County, West Virginia, and approximately 20 minutes from the state capital, Charleston. The farm is ideally located for "agritourism" opportunities. Agritourism is "a commercial enterprise at a working farm, ranch, or agricultural plant conducted for the enjoyment of visitors that generates income for the owner." It encompasses many things, but specifically in relation to my goals, it includes on-farm cooking/baking and cheesemaking workshops, fresh farm suppers, farmhand days, educational day camps for kids, nature hikes, photography walks, gardening classes, and events such as meetings, parties, and weddings.
I already have a section set up on my website to schedule and promote these events. See the Chickens in the Road Events page.
Sassafras Farm is a 100-acre farm snuggled into the Appalachian foothills.
Here, I raise dairy goats, miniature donkeys, sheep, chickens, and dairy cows.
The farm includes an 1890s big red barn, a vintage farmhouse, pastures, woodland trails, creeks, and the studio building. Its picturesque setting makes it look like it fell off the pages of a children's storybook, but it's also a real working farm--and I want to share it through educational workshops and activities as well as farm-sponsored entertainment events and renting the studio for meetings, parties, and weddings. For all of those things, I need a health department-approved kitchen.
Workshop topics planned for the coming year include cheesemaking, breadbaking, sweets and treats, preserving, art, writing, as well as a variety of crafts such as soapmaking and candlemaking. Classes will be offered for adults, teens, and younger children, along with educational activities including farmhand days and nature experiences for the entire family. I'm especially eager to hold summer "farm camps" for kids from the nearby city and towns where they can milk a cow, collect eggs, touch real wool on a sheep, bake bread, make cheese, learn about bees, and other basic animal husbandry and old-fashioned know-how that is nearly lost today.
The 500 square foot studio is a separate building behind the farmhouse. It includes an existing small kitchen, a bathroom, and a sitting area with sliding glass windows all around looking out onto beautiful pasture views.
Right now, the studio looks like this inside:
It was used by previous owners of the farm as an apartment. I've been using it for storage and a crash pad for my college-aged son. But the studio and I, we have a big dream!
The Studio at Sassafras Farm will be a health department-approved kitchen with two gas ranges, two refrigerators, two sinks, and stainless steel prep/work tables and shelves. It is a total gut job to make the "surfaces" (walls and floors) meet health department standards. The carpet will be replaced with black and white tile, and the walls will be sheetrocked and painted. The beadboard ceiling will remain, but will be sealed and painted per code. The studio will include both a large working kitchen as well as seating/dining/meeting space. There is also an existing multi-level deck for entertaining, gathering, and lots of room for outdoor dining.
I already have the two ranges, two refrigerators, and two sinks, so the appliances are in hand. The work is planned in four stages.
Stage 1: The public water line. The farm is on a well, but for health department purposes, public water is preferred. It's difficult and costly to get well water approved. The public water line was already at the farm, so the first step is to bring the public water line into the studio and set a separate water heater as well as update the old plumbing lines.
Stage 2: Demolition of the studio interior to make way for the new, approved materials.
Stage 3: Installing, finishing, and painting new drywall and sealing/painting the existing beadboard ceiling.
Stage 4: Floor tile and molding.
Working layout of the renovated studio:
All four stages of the work can be competed within 2 months. The total project cost includes all the labor and materials for all four stages as well as all the stainless steel prep/work tables and other items (stainless steel pots, pans, etc) to supply the kitchen and dining tables/chairs for seating. If this project is funded, I will be ready to roll!
Where the Project Is Right Now:
I've started on a shoestring and a dream. After a meeting on-site in the studio with the county health inspector and the construction team to go over plans, work began on January 30 to dig the new public water line to the studio.
"Hi, I'm Dave. (And I'm Matt!) Help us keep working on the studio!"
Please help me keep my construction super duo working on this project!
You can see more photos of the farm at the Sassafras Farm Gallery page.
Life on the farm is a lot of fun. I want to share it with you!
Thank you so much for your consideration! Every dollar counts. Please help me make the Studio at Sassafras Farm happen!
- (30 days)