designBridge and The Small Farmers Project

Carrying on a six-year tradition of student-initiated design/build projects for grassroots, community-based groups, a team of UO architecture students from the organization designBridge is preparing for the ribbon-cutting celebration of dB’s first structure oriented towards sustainable agriculture. The most recently completed project is an effort of fifteen students who were commissioned by the Small Farmers’ Project to design and build a structure to house a tractor, berry cooler and vending space.

The Small Farmers’ Project formed in 2008 as a project of the local non-profit Huerto de la Familia (the Family Garden). The organization provides low-income Latino families the opportunity and instruction to grow their own food in community gardens, and to create micro-businesses related to agricultural products. The Small Farmers’ Project now functions as an independent organic berry farm that is cooperatively owned and run by low-income seven families from Mexico and Peru. They produce several varieties of strawberries and blackcap raspberries, a Northwest heritage crop. This year’s purchase of a tractor has significantly augmented the farm’s level of production, and in turn, each family’s income.

Since the farmers lease their land, they anticipate that they may have to move once their lease expires. The student team therefore designed the structure to be fully disassembled, transported, and reassembled in its new location. “Design for disassembly,” an important and growing approach to sustainable architecture, played an influential role in the students’ design process. “Part of sustainability is flexibility, being able to adapt to changing circumstances while maintaining utility and relevance,” one student explains. “The Small Farmers’ Project tractor shed will continue to serve their evolving needs even if the farm moves to a new location.”

designBridge is a multi-disciplinary student organization linking the University of Oregon with the surrounding community by offering design and design-build services to clients. The focus is to bring the resources and energy of students to communities and organizations that don’t have access or resources to acquire professional design services.

The ribbon cutting ceremony will take place at the berry farm,located at 511 E. Beacon Drive on Saturday, October 8th from 2pm – 5pm. The event is open to the public.



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