One of Gifford Park’s oldest homes, at 3322 Burt St., is currently undergoing a restoration. Upon completion, it will be occupied by beginning and aspiring farmers in the training program of Big Muddy Urban Farm, serving as the main home from which the farm is run.
Big Muddy is “a collectively run urban farm providing local and diverse fruits, vegetables and herbs.” In addition to growing and providing food, they also place particular importance on cultivating relationships within the community, specifically through their Community Supported Agriculture program. The location of the Burt Street home presents a perfect opportunity to continue to build those relationships.
Big Muddy currently has five plots within a three-mile radius, and the Burt Street home is positioned in such a way that the farmers will be able to walk to the plots to tend to their crops, thus staying more closely in touch with the community they serve. As Big Muddy’s Brent Lubbert puts it, “we have made a concentrated effort to cut out transportation wherever possible and become more neighborhood focused.”
The home—originally built in 1890—was purchased last summer by Chris Foster of the Gifford Park Neighborhood Association, who will now rent the home to Big Muddy. In his role as director of the Gifford Park Community Garden and Youth Garden Program, Foster has had frequent collaboration with Big Muddy, whose members have volunteered with the youth garden program for each of the past three years.
There are a number of renovations taking place, necessitated both by the inefficient original layout of the house and by poor management and neglect during the home’s years as a rental property.
The original layout of the house was such that the bathroom could only be accessed by walking through bedrooms. The bathroom will be moved slightly to eliminate this problem. In addition, the previously closed-off kitchen will be opened up into the living room “to provide a more inviting space and a better place for community activities to take place.” Insulation will also be added to the walls throughout the home.
The foundation will be fixed, as parts of it have eroded mortar due to poor water flow in the back of the house. The property will also be graded to provide better water flow away from the house, and prevent further problems in the future.
While many other minor things have been replaced throughout the house, Foster says that they “have tried to keep as much of the old character of the house as possible.” With the coming changes, the hope is that the home, which once negatively impacted Gifford Park, can now serve as a bright spot within the community.
Renovations are due to be completed by the end of April or beginning of May.
Written by Sam Farrell, Invigoration Committee volunteer.
Big Muddy has five plots within a three-mile radius of the Burt Street home.