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A Blessing in the Form of a Barn

by Melissa Camp

BLACKLICK, OH July 10, 2006---After nearly four years of dreaming, planning, and building, we have been blessed with much-needed space to further our mission of reconnecting people to the Earth that sustains us and gives us life.

The seasoned barn we converted into our new multipurpose building witnessed over 100 years of farm life. It lent its roof and hardwood beams to protect livestock from passing storms, held strong to its hay track as bales of animal food were lifted to its loft, provided sturdy walls to house plows and tractors that sustained the family’s livelihood, and offered its secret nooks as homes to tiny field creatures. While this old barn has entered into a new life, it has remained true to its purpose: to be a protector, provider, and home to all who enter.

The building made the 15-mile journey from Obetz, Ohio, in countless numbered pieces on the back of a flatbed semitruck. Each beam and column was then cleaned, oiled, and carefully put back together by many skilled hands. The barn now resides prominently in the middle of organic gardens and pasture on North Waggoner Road, ready to embark on its new journey with our ministry. We have honored the integrity of the sturdy building but also offered it a new “green” make-over!

The barn now has a concrete foundation and numerous windows and is positioned to collect passive solar heat. It also has a clearstory added to its roof, bringing natural lighting and ventilation to the inside space, as well as energy-efficient insulation and heating and cooling systems. Materials taken off the barn when it was disassembled were re-used whenever possible. Recycled gravel/concrete, better known as “urbanite,” was spread in the parking and driveway areas. Many of the interior projects, such as shelving, coat/boot racks, workbenches and tables, are being built from fallen trees hauled out of the woods and sawed into boards on our portable sawmill.

We followed the guidelines of the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Program, which is a voluntary consensus-based national standard for developing high performance, sustainable buildings. We will continue to “green” the barn as we grow and hope to install solar/wind energy systems to reduce further our energy consumption, as well as a rainwater retention system to provide water to the gardens and animals.

A highlight of the building is the large farm-style kitchen adjacent to the attached garden shed. Much of the food grown at Shepherd’s Corner (more than 2,500 pounds in the 2005 growing season) is washed and packaged before delivery to local food kitchens and pantries. This new food-handling space is a blessing as we have outgrown our makeshift processing/packaging area in the old garage. The kitchen will also serve us well for canning and preserving the harvest for program use. The rest of the attached shed will provide storage for implements and hand-tools and will house the on-site farm market that provides fresh, organic vegetables to the surrounding community.

A large program/assembly space graces the majority of the barn interior that once housed tractors, implements, cows, and horses. Now, children and adults alike will benefit from the space as they engage in environmental, agricultural, and spiritual learning. Art has filled the space that once was full of hay and straw. Art rooms dedicated to clay, fiber, painting, dried flowers and herbs, and other creative expressions are fortifying the soul as the hay and straw once did for the livestock. The new office space gives us a stimulating, light-filled space for working that inspires not only productivity, but also peace, as we gaze out over the pasture and see the sheep graze.

So, this old barn indeed has entered into a new life. In all those who have encountered the barn thus far, it already has begun to nurture a reverence for God’s creations of land, life, and spirit.

Columbus Dominicans: Shepherds' Corner Renovation

May all that occurs in this place of ministry be a means of proclaiming
the Good News of Your loving kindness to us and to all creation.

Shepherd’s Corner Ministry
987 North Waggoner Road Blacklick, OH 43004
Phone 614.866.4302

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Since the time of St Dominic, more than 800 years ago, Dominicans have been living and sharing
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