January 12, 2018 Working the Land at the Fowler Clark Epstein Farm
Compared to most of HBI’s projects, the Fowler Clark Epstein Farm has a lot more land – almost ¾ of an acre – and therefore we have a lot more landscaping and site work than is typical. In addition to the farm vegetable beds, we will have two driveways, several stone walls, two courtyards, pathways, steps, fencing, and a ramp. And that is only what can be seen above ground. We also have a system of below grade trenches filled with crushed stone and piping, designed to retain rain water and disperse it within our site, rather than send it into the City’s storm water system.
Timing of site work and landscaping can be a logistical challenge on construction projects, and that has proven to be the case at the Fowler Clark Epstein Farm. One challenge for our two contractors (MJ Mawn who is responsible for the buildings, and Hurst Landscaping & Site Services, who is responsible for the land) is to stay out of each other’s way. There are two storage trailers, a construction office trailer, dumpsters, equipment and vehicles scattered about, making our large parcel of land feel pretty small at times. The goal is to move the trailers as few times as possible, as moving them is expensive, making planning and communications among team members critical.
Keeping a close eye on the weather forecast is also essential. We were blessed with a fairly balmy fall, allowing Hurst to complete construction of the walls and drainage trenches before Mother Nature finally blasted us with cold just as his team prepared to install walkway pavers. The solution was to tent and heat the walkway areas, allowing workers to complete egress paths that will be required for occupancy. Fortunately, this work wrapped up just before wind, snow, and brutal cold came along.
The new challenge: how to move the large mound of frozen soil that needed to be regraded elsewhere on the site? As of last week, the plan was to rent special blankets that can be used in conjunction with heaters to thaw the earth enough to render it movable. But wait! We got lucky once more, with a few days of warmth that melted the snow and allowed Hurst to chip away at the frozen pile with an excavator, just ahead of the afternoon rain.
With the site work required for occupancy nearing completion, the landscaping team will soon depart for several weeks. They will return for phase two in the spring: completion of the farm!