As a school fundraiser, it's more progressive than gift wrap and way cooler than a bake sale.
"I guess that's the point," says Nancy Gutknecht, parent volunteer and co-chair of development at the Madison Waldorf School. "We wanted to have a fundraiser that wouldn't just raise funds, but also promote the things we believe in."
Gutknecht, who's also involved with Midvale Gardens and other school garden projects, had read about a fundraiser in which a school raffled off playhouses. Why not go several steps further, she thought, and ask local green builders to design small garden-type structures that would be both attractive and built with sustainability in mind? The response was "remarkable," says Gutknecht. "Everyone wanted to help." The result is the "At Home With Nature" raffle, to benefit the Madison Waldorf School and Community GroundWorks and held in conjunction with the Olbrich Gardens 2010 Home Garden Tour, July 9-10.
The four structures, a gazebo, a chicken coop, a garden shed and a play structure, were all designed especially for this project. "We also wanted to help promote the work of these builders and designers," Gutknecht notes, "as well as sustainable practices."
The styles range from the rustic, almost Tolkien-like woodland gazebo by Wood Joiners to the Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired chicken coop by the Green Squared Building Association to the more abstract Play Structure by Brian DiGeorge and Yager Wood Products. Finally, the modular 8' x 8' garden shed from Design Coalition and TDS Custom Construction is convertible to a greenhouse, bike storage spot, kid's playhouse, or - well, imagination may be the only limit.
The chicken coop is snazzy enough to act as the tipping point for anyone who's been toying with the idea of going the backyard chicken route. And Gutknecht enthuses over the craftsmanship on the gazebo, where the four main posts are tree trunks, with the bark removed using hand tools.
"We want people to come out to Troy Gardens and see them" (they'll be on display there July 9-10), says Gutknecht. "The designers are true artists. They care so much about the natural world and the materials they're using."
Raffle tickets for each of the four buildings (from 1/$10 to 15/$100) are on sale at Barriques, Tuvalu Coffeehouse, the Willy Street Co-op and during the Olbrich tour. More info here or at Facebook (search "At Home With Nature").