2011 has turned into the year of the barn! We have been building and repairing barns almost exclusively. Given the flat home construction industry we're fortunate that barn building is the core of our business. To get a good look at one of our barns there is a video on our homepage or here, http://tinyurl.com/3sohsub.
Why are people building barns this year? I suspect there are a number of reasons. The glut of foreclosure property has depressed property values making it difficult to justify buiding new homes. Unless you are fortunate enough to own just the right piece of land and are planning to live there for a long time. Rather than invest in something that may not see its value realized for some time, many people are choosing to improve the value of their existing home. Typically they are using cash, home equity, or local financing from smaller banks that will hold the mortgage and use a local experienced appraisor.
But why a barn, why not an addition or a garage? I'm seeing an interesting trend, while we are still building barns for people's boats, cars and other posessions, we're starting to see more people building barns for the same reasons as our forefathers - agricultural! A growing number of new barn owners are becoming part time farmers. Horse barns have been popular in New England for a long time but now people are getting back to more livestock and field crops.
People are concerned with the quality of our food supply as evidenced by the growing demand for organic and locally grown food from farmer's markets and CSA's. As we saw 30 and 40 years ago there is a growing movement back to rural areas, with the promise of a simpler life away from the stress of urban areas. People with young children and couples looking forward to a quiet retirement are attracted by the life of a small community, where they can supplement their food and energy costs on a small part time farm. They look forward to reducing their carbon footprint and their reliance on a complex food distribution network that in times of national fiscal distress looks fragile.
As world resources are stressed there is comfort knowing you are easing that burden by living a simpler life, using less energy and supplementing your food sources with healthy, tasty home grown meat, fruit and vegetables. At the same time you become part of a lively small community, sharing with eachother, from the local beekeeper to the organic cattle famer providing fresh, lean, chemical free beef and pork.
Have you noticed more restaurants offering locally grown, organic food, and the growing popularity of community farmer's markets? You may also have noticed old barns being spruced up and new barns popping up as the demand for locally raised food helps support small agriculture. These beautiful buildings connect us with a simpler past of small communities, connected by local commerce, perhaps more importantly they reconnect us with the planet and the seasons. They allow us the chance to shift from season to season. They store our tools for planting, give our animals shelter, protect supplies for our long winters, and they are a tempting playspace for our children and their friends. A New England Barn is probably one of the most representative features of our life here - hard work, security, beauty and the sharing of our life with the community and the planet.
We are all experienced barn owners and part time farmers, we would be happy to help you design your barn and make it work for you. A good barn is not just a big empty box, it needs to fit your site and make light work of your daily chores. A well designed barn will help you enjoy the satisfaction of running your own part time farm.