Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, thanks to a partnership with Hidden Valley Nature Center of Midcoast Conservancy, now has a new outdoor classroom. The collaboration, offered as a timber frame construction workshop, took place in October 2019. Over four days, students, guided by Bob Lear of Bob’s Beams in Whitefield, built and erected the 18-foot x 60-foot open-sided structure.
What began as a locally-sourced build, educational opportunity, and chance to collaborate has, in its second year, taken on new significance as a safe, outdoor gathering space, thanks to the changes brought on by a global pandemic. Also significant is the structure’s sustainability, a timely topic for the Gardens.
“This year, with our major trolls exhibit, our theme focuses on Maine’s woods — their history, their importance to our state’s industry, and the measures being taken toward their conservation,” says Daniel Ungier, CMBG’s vice president of Guest Experience and Education. “That we now have a locally built, sustainably sourced timber frame classroom is a fitting tribute to the year. A project like this is only possible through collaboration with great local partners such as Midcoast Conservancy.”
Timber framing is a traditional building practice that uses large, heavy beams hewn to fit together like pieces of a puzzle, then secured by large wooden pegs. All the lumber used for the Gardens’ timber frame was harvested at Hidden Valley Nature Center, where sustainable forestry is a leading principle of the center’s 1,000-acre management plan. The forestry practices focus on improving water quality and wildlife habitat through sustainable harvesting and have resulted in multiple awards, including the State of Maine’s Outstanding Tree Farm in 2014.
Visit midcoastconservancy.org for more information.
To learn more, visit MaineGardens.org.