Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Waitsfield, Vermont offers over 80 hands-on courses per year in design, construction, woodworking, and architectural craft and offers a variety of courses concentrating in sustainable design. Now in its 35th year, Yestermorrow is one of the only design/build schools in the country, teaching both design and construction skills. Our hands-on 1-day to 3-week workshops, certificate programs and semester programs are taught by top architects, builders, and craftspeople from across the country. For people of all ages and experience levels, from novice to professional.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Playing with Garbage

The kitchen/garden and design/build interns recently revamped the compost system at Yestermorrow with the help of board member and instructor Buzz Ferver and Dave Warren, our facilities manager.

The current bin system that was in use was far away from the garden and difficult to turn. The new pile system (or as Buzz calls it, the Compost Happens System) is an improvement in the following ways:
1) Less manual labor is needed; no one needs to turn the pile and since the compost is sited in the garden, there will be no need to haul finished compost to the garden; and
2) The compost is sited in the garden, which means that the soil underneath the compost pile will be extremely fertile and loose when the pile is ready to be spread.

It can be a bit of a bummer when it's 20 degrees below zero outside since the new compost pile is so far away from the kitchen. However, everyone still has all of their fingers.

How it Works
Clear the ground and lay straw or woodchips down in a thin layer. Start layering the compost in, lasagnaing kitchen waste with sprinklings of dirt, hay, or woodchips. Wet as necessary. Since so many people come and go, we're going to try to be really on the ball about record keeping by naming the pile something like “Your Name 1.”

When the compost gets to be about a 3X3’ or 4X4’ pile, which should take 3 to 4 months, we'll cover it with sawdust and then label the pile so that the following group of interns know when the compost will be ready. It will be ready a year from when it is done being built. When that pile is done, we'll start a new pile. Throughout the year, 3 to 4 compost piles will be sitting at any one time.

Monday, January 26, 2009


Here are a few pictures that happened to be snapped during the first day of the Timber Framing class. Everyone hard at work, making sure that the reference edge leads the way to a plumb, level, square and tight fitting frame. I am not actually in the class and have only a laypersons understanding of the process but it was fascinating to watch the progressions throughout the day. I eagerly await the day when I too can call myself a crafter of mortis and tenon.

First Class

Today was my first day as a timberframer (apprentice). It's also my first full class as an intern. It feels a little strange to be out of the loop with the other interns who are still on facilities and project duties while I'm in class.

The day flew by incredibly quickly. Seth Kelley and Skip Dewhirst took us from bringing in the timbers to laying out our first joints to cutting or boring them by the end of the day. It's amazing to see a bunch of newbies working fastidiously to mark perfect lines and cut at the right spots. I'll try to include some pictures later this week that capture the intensity of our labors.

But the day is not finished yet. After dinner, we'll gather again and begin talking about the theory behind timberframing and see some pictures of projects that Seth and Skip have worked on.

I also have dish duty tonight, so I have to get back to the kitchen!

Yestermorrow Hosts Energy Efficiency Training February 9th

Mad River Valley residents have an opportunity to reach out and help their neighbors make their homes more energy efficient through a pilot project from Efficiency Vermont. Efficiency VT will train local volunteers to conduct free home visits designed to help homeowners learn about energy-saving opportunities.

Volunteers will assist in identifying inefficient use of energy in the home, provide information about additional ways to reduce energy costs and help residents find area professionals trained to make further energy-efficiency improvements. Volunteers also will install free ENERGY STAR® compact fluorescent light bulbs, water-saving devices and, if applicable, programmable thermostats. Efficiency Vermont will fund the cost of installed energy-saving products and the volunteer training. Locally, the project is being spearheaded by the Valley Futures Network, the Carbon Shredders and the Mad River Valley Planning District.

Volunteers should try to attend the training session on Monday, February 9, which will be held at Yestermorrow Design/Build School. The training session will begin with a light meal starting at 5:30 and is expected to run until 9:00 PM. To RSVP for the training session or for more information on the project, call Dennis Derryberry at 496.7662.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

As we look forward in a new age of hope

What an exciting time all around the country as we face the world with a renewed sense of optimism and hope. Yesterday a crowd of students, staff and faculty gathered together around the big screen in Yestermorrow's Main Studio to witness the inauguration of our new President. As we all come together to design and build our common future, Yestermorrow is about more than just our classes, our buildings or our mission statement. It's a dynamic community of people coming together who want to make the world a better place.

As you visit our blog and contemplate your own dreams, we hope that you will also consider making a tax-deductible contribution to support Yestermorrow's non-profit work to:

  • Forward the cause of good design and sustainability though education, research and advocacy;
  • Design and build more projects that benefit other organizations and non-profits, as well as communities across the U.S. and abroad;
  • Provide more frequent and better public education programs and events on diverse topics such as affordable housing, alternative energy, and relocalization;
  • Reach new audiences and make our classes available to those of lesser means and greater need; and
  • Continue to offer our facilities for the use of allied groups working in the region and beyond.

Yestermorrow is not alone among non-profits struggling to make ends meet in this time of economic challenges. Please consider a gift today to support our work.

Kate Stephenson
Interim Executive Director

Friday, January 16, 2009

This Old Recyclable House

Yestermorrow instructor Brad Guy was profiled in the NY Times magazine a few months ago for his work deconstructing houses. His next YM class - Deconstruction and Material Re-Use- is coming up June 19-24, 2009. Check out the article here.

This Old Recyclable House
Published: September 28, 2008
Every year, we demolish 250,000 homes and bury the debris. What if all those floors and joists and beams were reused?

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

What to say???
Facilities Manager Dave Warren hard at work (as always)

Candy Shows off New Door

Fall 2008 intern Candy Vanderhoff demonstrates the smooth movement of the pivot door which she designed and built as part of her fall internship at Yestermorrow for our new and improved lawnmower shed.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Yestermorrow welcomes winter intern crew

We're excited to welcome our new winter session interns, who started their internships today with a rousing round of introductions, campus tours, chores, and more. Our orientation week will include time in the shop going over tool safety, a tour of the Mad River Valley, picking classes, starting renovations in the Chalet, and getting ready for next week's classes.

Meet our 6 new interns:
Zachary Hunter- Though periodically departing to live in and experience other regions of the world, Zachary was born in and continues to call Vermont home. With an educational background in forestry, Zach felt a growing necessity for independence and building experience. This desire has gained momentum in the past several years as he acclimated to working as a carpenter. Currently three years deep in his "education", Zach looks forward to expanding his skillset as a tradesman, and meeting with individuals who are committed to more progressive and size-appropriate building strategies.

Kendall Barbery-- Most recently from Olympia, Washington where she's imbibed the water from the artesian well (and vowed to return), Kendall has spent the past several years fishing in the pristine waters of Bristol Bay, gardening/farming in Alaska, Washington and Hawaii, and taking things apart (primarily houses) with her friends at Olympia Salvage. Originally from Virginia, she carried her art degree west and north (to the future) at the prompting of a very smart and considerate friend. Now that she's spent so much time deconstructing homes and ogling salvaged materials, she's looking to figure out how to put them together again, responsibly. Kendall loves scraps of paper people leave between the pages of books, attics, old photographs, bikes and bike rides, knots, birds, boats, potlucks, friends and, increasingly, snow.

W.L. Schebaum-- Hailing from the flood plains of Richmond Vermont, W.L. Schebaum is a philosopher/farmer/carpenter/musician currently enthralled by the endless possibilities of the human experience. Spending his early years in the fields and forests of Gravesend New Hampshire instilled a sense of unity with the natural world which was later solidified by philosophical studies at the University of Vermont. Will has worked as a historical restorationist, organic farmer, deck hand, touring musician, and most recently carpenter. He hopes to spend his time at Yestermorrow fusing the principles of creative and balanced living in order to achieve a higher state of awareness and build a few things along the way. He spends his free time riding bicycles, exploring rivers, uphill skiing, entertaining cosmological paradoxes, and of course breathing.

Tressa Gibbard-- Tressa comes to Yestermorrow most recently from Lake Tahoe, California and the wide world of watershed management. Previously, as an undergrad in environmental studies at Penn State, she was involved in alternative, community-based building projects in Montana, Mexico and North Carolina. After college, however, wanderlust got the better of her and led her to pursue field-based watershed research in the West as well as Mongolia and Russia. Fine wooden crafts in Siberia and a desire to work with her hands to build something other than databases of numbers and picutres about the natural world inspired her to come to Yestermorrow to further her building and design skills.

Tim Pierce-- Although Tim has lived most of his life in Michigan, he has traveled and lived all over the U.S. while pursuing assorted dreams. Tim has spent excessive amounts of time as a computer engineer, and just enough time as an Appalacian Trail thru-hiker, boat builder, social worker, and pig-shelter architect/builder. All of these experiences have led to a desire to make a sustainable life that combines work and pleasure in one place at one time. He and his wife Stephanie are passionate about good food and hope to eventually own a farm in efforts to spread the joy of eating well.

Stephanie Pierce-- Raised in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Stephanie migrated south to attend Albion College where she studied communication and philosophy. Her first job out of college found her at a large foundation doing communications support work for sustainable agriculture grantmaking. She partnered with a good friend to create the working structure for a small communications consulting firm where she did writing, analysis, and odds 'n ends after leaving the foundation. Along the way, the light dawned that she needed to balance mental work with physical work in order to remain sane. While doing a work-for-trade at a rotational grazing farm in Michigan she began to figure out with her husband Tim how to pursue their burgeoning dreams of 21st century homesteading and small scale vegetable farming. The kitchen/garden internship at Yestermorrow is one of her first major steps toward that dream.