A series of four ‘Green’ Construction workshops at the REACH sites held October-December provided training in the use of traditional tools and renewable resources to a number of participants, according to Jessica McFadden of the Office of Development. “The neat thing about these workshops,” she explained, “is that participants had an opportunity to learn the skills on-site at historically important places, and to apply and practice their new skills in an authentic setting with authentic tools and materials.”
The workshops focused on energy-efficient practices associated with preservation or construction relating to log structures, in this instance the Rice-Upshaw House and the William Looney Tavern, two of the state’s oldest log structures, constructed ca 1828 and 1833, respectively. Instructor Eric Sammons, log specialist of Mountain Home, led the instruction team in teaching green construction skills in several areas: applying chinking and daubing to an 1840s-era smoke house; construction of flooring on log joists; construction of a paling fence at the Rice-Upshaw site; applying batten stripping to winterize the 1840s-era granary; construction of a “shaving horse” and assorted primitive porch or yard furniture; and construction of a stacked rail fence.
Participants were able to use traditional tools, including an antique broad axe, draw knife, froe, adze, wedge and maul.
“We are very excited about the outcome of this project,” McFadden said. “Some of the participants came back for every single workshop. Not only did workshop participants learn new skills, which will be useful to many of them in their current or new jobs, but we actually have identifiable products that attest to their newly gained energy-efficient green construction skills.” Since the tools have been purchased by the college, and with the training of the workshop participants, it is the hope of the college to hold subsequent energy-efficient training sessions and demonstrations of pioneering skills such as those described above.
The workshops were sponsored by BRTC’s Office of Corporate and Community Education, and were funded through a grant from Arkansas Energy Sector Partnership.