FARMINGTON — More work and more money are needed to complete a commercial community kitchen and two walk-in storage coolers at the Grange hall but the end is in sight, a Grange official said.

What Grange members hope will help move the project forward is a building bee being held Saturday at the Grange on Bridge Street in Farmington. Work crews will start at 8 a.m. and then break for a potluck lunch at 1 p.m. Volunteers can come for as long as they wish, Grange spokesman Richard Marble.

He said if possible, volunteers should bring screw guns, drywall taping tools to finish some framing as well as hanging/taping drywall, and something to share for lunch.

“If you want to bring and share your favorite dish with the workers, if you want to learn how to hang Sheetrock, if you want to spend a Saturday with wonderful folks from the area, this is the place to be,” Marble said in a news release.

Two earlier buildings bees were held last summer and dozens of community members and their families worked alongside Grange members to start the renovations. Work has continued over the winter, Marble said Tuesday.

The building is used for community events and by several local agricultural ventures. The Winter Farmington Farmers Market is open every Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon, and the online Western Maine Market and the Farmington Food Co-Op both use the building as a food distribution point.

To date, the improvements have been extensive. The basement has been stripped and spray foam insulation applied to the outside walls; the walk-in coolers were framed and new walls put up in the commercial kitchen area; blown-in insulation was used upstairs; and the air leaks in the old attic were plugged.

The whole building has been rewired; two energy-efficient wood pellet stoves have been installed upstairs; and removable insulating plastic inserts were made and installed in each window.

The weatherization improvements have made a huge difference, Marble said.

“With those two pellet stoves, we can keep the hall at 45 degrees during the week when it is not being used and it is only costing us $8 a week. It is now so inexpensive to heat that building compared to what we were spending,” Marble said.

To address a portion of the foundation that was failing, students from the Maine School of Masonry in Phillips volunteered to repair a 16-foot long section at the front of the building last fall, he said.

And a persistent underground water drainage problem on the west side of the 19th century hall was addressed with the help of E.L. Vining & Son and Taylor Made Homes. Marble said both construction firms assisted by digging a trench and installing a “curtain drain,” a perforated pipe covered with gravel that acts like an underground gutter.

Next, the plumbing is being done in the commercial kitchen and Marble anticipates it will be ready for state inspection this spring.

“We have done an awful lot this past year,” he said.

They already have a used, six-burner stove and range, a three-bay sink, a 20-quart mixer in need of some repair and a water heater for the kitchen. They are in need of a used pizza/convection oven, commercial sized pots, and additional utensils.

The Grange Commercial Community Kitchen will be used by people in the community to process food grown in the area and by farmers and others interested in developing products for sale. The goal is also to use the Grange as a distribution center for shipping local agricultural products out of the area.

Work has been funded with a grant from the Sandy River Charitable Trust, funds generated by the town of Farmington’s tax-increment financing program and donations. But now that the donations have been expended, more funds are being sought, Marble said.

For information, call Marble at 491-6166.


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