At Yestermorrow, we offer our time and skill in building a variety of projects in collaboration with local non-profits, schools, and other community members. Our mission is best met when we can pair our efforts with those who can most benefit from them.
Yestermorrow projects can be found throughout the Mad River Valley and beyond. Aside from the more visible public examples of our work, we regularly create cabinetry, concrete countertops, timber frames, yurts, renovations, tiny houses, garden sheds, earthen ovens, treehouses and other building projects that may not be obvious to the general public.
Many of our hands-on classes require a building project as an integral aspect of the class. If you are interested in one of the projects listed, please contact us by filling out our Project Inquiry Form.
A few example projects in our community include:
Our 2015 Public Interest Design/Build class partnered with Laraway Youth & Family Services, a non-profit agency that serves children and youth from across Vermont. Laraway’s mission is to provide opportunities for children and families to recognize their individual strengths while supporting them to grow and contribute within their communities. Four years ago, Laraway’s programs were relocated to a new campus in Johnson, Vermont—40 acres of prime farmland with a historic barn and farmhouse along the Lamoille River. The agency is working to create a resilient landscape that supports their organizational mission by integrating their services with the development of regenerative agricultural systems and outdoor recreational and horticultural therapy. The aim is to inspire, connect and prepare Laraway youth using the lens of ecological literacy and skill development.
A big part of supporting Laraway youth in their personal development is providing them with spaces for exploration and play. A centerpiece of the site development at their new home has been the playground. Laraway staff sought out Yestermorrow as a community partner because of its mission alignment and ability to provide non-traditional hands-on learning experiences. The footbridge built by the Yestermorrow class at Laraway is a gateway into the playground, passing over a small drainage full of wildflowers that separates the main buildings and the playground area. The structure can be used for play in and of itself. It also provides options for youth to navigate their way through the space and offers a bench for rest with expansive views across the property.
Waterbury Dog Park
The village of Waterbury was one of the communities hardest hit when Tropical Storm Irene pounded the state of Vermont in August of 2011. Swamped with eight inches of rain, the Winooski River, which parallels Main Street, overrode its banks and left much of the community under water, damaging or destroying 220 homes and businesses, as well as a state office complex that hosted 1500 workers in a variety of state agencies. In the years since, Waterbury has shown remarkable resilience and progress, renovating or rebuilding nearly all the damaged structures, but also going beyond that, by improving and expanding the town’s infrastructure and amenities, and seeking ways to continue fostering the strong community spirit that arose in the flood’s aftermath.
One such project was the creation of a fenced dog park, a safe location for the community’s canines to freely intermingle and socialize. The centerpiece of the park was to be a shade shelter, where the dog’s owners could congregate out of the sun or rain. Enter Yestermorrow. Working in partnership with the town’s community planner and recreation director, Yestermorrow instructor Josh Jackson designed a tasteful and beautiful post and beam structure, which was hand cut by the school’s May 2015 Timber Framing class, and raised at the site by the students. The park officially opened a few months later, almost four years to the day since the floods of Irene. The response has been dramatic, with many smiling faces and wagging tails. And just beyond the park fence, a literal stone’s throw away, the Winooski River flows calmly by, a constant reminder of both the power of water and the power of community.
Fayston Elementary School
Staff at the elementary school in nearby Fayston, Vermont were looking to create a natural “playscape” and outdoor learning space. They turned to Yestermorrow to build the center piece for their new playground and the Design/Build for Public Interest class was tasked with its creation and installation.Students built a “climbable” structure with graduated seating to set this new vision in motion. They also built a set of large 3-D Tetris blocks to act as seating and movable play elements. The structure was built from locally milled pine and cedar, sourced just down the road from the school.
Student Emma Costello said “we created a structure that would ultimately be expanded on. It was a thought-provoking design challenge and very rewarding to see the results of our hard work and set the tone for a larger vision.” The kids love it too!
Shelburne Farms is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to educate for a sustainable future through programs on a historic, 1,400-acre working farm and forest on the shores of Lake Champlain. Shelburne Farms has benefited from three of the annual Design/Build for Public Interest class projects, including a produce wagon for farm sales and a mobile writer's cabin whose honorary first guest was environmentalist Bill McKibben.
In 2014, the class designed and built a fine-looking composting toilet that adds to the comfort and enjoyment of visitors, and solved a pressing need to replace a less-then-environmentally-friendly porta-potty. Built out of lumber sustainably harvested and milled in the Shelburne Farms' educational forest, the structure will enhance Shelburne Farms' outdoor education programs that reach tens of thousands every year.
Waitsfield Elementary School
In what has long been Yestermorrow’s flagship class, the June 2013 Home Design/Build team created a playhouse of locally milled, rough sawn wood, based on the school’s interest in a fanciful addition to their playground, coupled with student safety and supervision imperatives. To add more character to the structure and infuse it with an environmental education element, our Green Roof Design and Installation class added a living, mini-ecosystem that keeps out the rain. The playhouse is now the focal point of the school playground.
Thea Alvin, who teaches Yestermorrow’s Art of Stone Workshop, also added to the whimsy and vibrancy of the playground when serving as an artist-in-residence, involving school children in constructing a circular, mini piazza.