Growing Green Architecture

GRuB’s already big on sustainability, and they help the community thrive as much as their gardens do.  They’re taking it one step further with their plans for building a farmhouse at their farm on Elliot Ave, on Olympia’s Westside.  But this will not be your typical farmhouse—you guessed it! It will be as “green” as their thumbs.farmhouse rendering


Currently, the property has a 1917 residential building that has no foundation, insulation or central heating system.  And due to its small size, the majority of staff members are housed off-site.  The farm property is central to their mission of bringing good food to all people and running their Cultivating Youth Program, a successful drop-out prevention, mentoring and nutrition program for low-income youth.  After construction of the new farmhouse, the 1917 home will be demolished, salvaging as much material for reuse as possible.

The new 2928 square foot farmhouse will provide adequate indoor classroom space for the Cultivating Youth Program, enough office space for the GRuB (Garden Raised Bounty) staff to work under one roof and have a kitchen designed to effectively host cooking and nutrition workshops.  The farm is already on the city bus line, and youth as well as staff predominately ride the bus or bike to the farm, eliminating the need for extensive parking, while encouraging alternate transportation.

Considering the history of the property and the residential surroundings, the farmhouse is being designed to complement the neighborhood.  The historic architecture of the site is Arts and Crafts Bungalow, and the new farmhouse will adopt this style, honoring the legacy of Bonnie Turner who was an avid gardener and supporter of GRuB.


The staff at GRuB is a group of dynamic, energetic, compassionate folks who recognize the opportunity to further enhance awareness of our interconnectedness to each other and the environment by their building construction choices.  With much community involvement (i.e. volunteers, donors and hired hands) in the design and building process, a higher level of intimacy is forged.  What is really being built is a stronger, compassionate community holding the intent of a healthier planet.

GRuB’s visions of sustainability extend to the local economy.  Kim Gaffi, co-director of GRuB, has been quoted as saying, “we want to support the economy growing up around green architecture.”  This is why they have sought out local designers, contractors and building materials for this project.


It all started with an organic process of preparing the soil (they purchased the farmland with their highly successful fundraising), collecting the seeds (a collaborative process of conceptual design involving the youth in the program, staff and some folks at Living Shelter of Seattle), planting the seeds (more fundraising, grant writing, public outreach and forming the design team: Barrett Burr of Polar Bear Construction, Joseph Becker and Craig Lawrence of ION and myself, Lisa Diane of Lucid 9 Design) and watering and mulching (many design meetings).  The next steps will be adding the sunshine (that’s where the community volunteers step in), watching the farmhouse take root and grow, and then harvesting the empowerment of individuals in our community and enjoying the bounty of a place the public can visit as a model for sustainability.

The farmhouse GRuB wants to see sprout up on their site is a structure that will endure much use and many generations, enhance and protect ecosystems and biodiversity, improve air and water quality, reduce solid waste, conserve natural resources, reduce operating costs, enhance asset value, improve employee productivity and satisfaction, reduce energy use, improve air, thermal and acoustic environments, enhance occupant comfort and health and contribute to overall quality of life.  The residential structure will feature:

  • OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA covered porch will encourage all weather outdoor use, providing greater opportunities to connect with the outdoor environment.
  • A conditioned crawl space to reduce heat loss through the HVAC duct work, which will be installed below the floor.  This also eliminates the need for fiberglass batts to be installed under the floor, as the foundation walls will be insulated with the following product, ICF’s.
  • The walls and foundation walls will be Faswall, a regionally local ICF (insulated concrete form) product with great R rating and none of the thermal bridging that conventional wood framing has.  It is highly fire and pest resistant, uses wood fiber wastes from milling industry, is breathable, extremely durable and non-toxic.  It is also labor friendly. (Visit
  • Advanced framing will be used for the second floor kneewall and attic gable ends to reduce thermal bridging and save on lumber.
  • Metal roofing will be used for longevity and potential for rainwater collection.  Plenty of room is available for solar panels.  Wiring for grid tied solar will be installed and the panels will depend upon donations (here’s your chance to help!) or grant money.
  • Roof insulation will be R-38 with rigid foam and cellulose batt, with consideration given for “cradle to cradle” re-use of materials sometime down the road.
  • All finish work will be as natural as possible for indoor air quality and ecosystem protection, for example floor coverings will include Marmoleum, paper composite countertops, reclaimed wood for trim details and earthen plaster on the ICF and interior walls, and low or no VOC paints.
  • Lighting and appliances will be Energy Star or greater in efficiency.  On-demand hot water and high efficiency heating systems will be installed.
  • Rainwater from the roof, any overflow from future rainwater catchments and footing drains will flow to rain gardens.

There is a great opportunity for the community to dig in and help nurture GRuB’s growth by volunteering time, materials and financial resources.  GRuB’s Taking Root Capital Campaign has already raised at least $323,000 and is likely to gain an additional $281,000 in grant support.  They are well on their way to reaching their remaining goal of $231,850 by the end of 2007.  In order to realize the dream of a farmhouse as green as the kale they grow, community support is their greatest tool.  Such important features, such as solar electricity can be added to the project if enough resources are available.  (Contact GRuB at 360-753-5522 or visit  As the GRuBbites like to say, “without yo’U’ we’re just GRB.”
~written by:  Elizabeth Diane, July 2007 GRuB presentation-2

GRuB presentation-1