Design/Build Partnership Leads to New Urban Agriculture Education Center
Center includes 1,200 square feet of indoor education space
On May 9, 2016, Knoxville (Tenn.) mayor Madeline Rogero, the city council and other officials opened a new urban agriculture community education center as part of CAC Beardsley Community Farm. The center includes 1,200 square feet of indoor education space and 1,800 square feet of covered outdoor education space. The LEED-certified building also includes offices for three CAC Urban Agriculture staff and two CAC AmeriCorps members, much needed accessible restrooms, fully accessible parking and a water catchment system for irrigation.
Beardsley Community Farm is operated by CAC Urban Agriculture and CAC AmeriCorps, and was one of the earliest urban farms in the region, servicing community members, especially children in low- to moderate-income neighborhoods and schools. The facility is open to the public for visitors to develop their urban agriculture skills at no cost.
The new urban agriculture facility was a collaboration between the City of Knoxville, CAC Beardsley Community Farm, UT’s College of Architecture and Design, Elizabeth Eason Architecture LLC, Merit Construction and the Public Building Authority. Additional funding and materials support were provided by the Siddiqi Charitable Foundation, General Shale Brick Inc., the Thompson Charitable Foundation, former mayor and ambassador to Poland Victor Ashe, StonePeak Ceramics Inc., American Institute of Architects – East Tennessee, Paulk & Co., Keene Building Products, Columbia Forest Products Inc., Baird & Wilson Sheet Metal, and many other local sponsors.
City Public Service crews contributed a major construction effort, along with student volunteers from UT’s College of Architecture and Design on the concept of a design/build partnership. The students collaborated for one full semester with Elizabeth Eason Architecture to create the structure’s design. Professors Bob French and Jennifer Akerman and more than 50 University of Tennessee (UT) student volunteers worked over the past two years with project partners to see the facility through, even assisting with construction.
The new building will serve as a home base for the farm, creating a new front door to their educational program.
The primary structure is triple-wythe load-bearing brick, detailed to take advantage of historic structural methods while also addressing thermal performance and water mitigation. General Shale donated all brick and mortar for the project and provided support for students to learn the craft of masonry from master mason J.C. Newman.
Staff at the farm worked with the designers and students so that the facility would enhance all aspects of operations. For example, the outdoor wash area was designed with a bench and counter spaces so that gardeners could wash up while also having convenient space to wash produce from the garden. A pass-through window at the wash area will allow cleaned produce and tools to be easily moved to interior storage.
For more information, visit www.beardsleyfarm.org.
About the Author
Kathleen Gibi is the Public Affairs Specialist at City of Knoxville Office of Communications.