The art of construction celebrated at Berkshire Botanical Garden barn raising

Workers put the final truss onto the frame of an under-construction building at the Berkshire Botanical Garden on Saturday, Jan. 21. Photo by Shaw Israel Izikson.

Stock Bridge — The Berkshire Botanical Garden celebrated the art of old-time construction at a barn-raising event on Saturday, January 21.

The organization is undertaking the construction of a new building at its location, which will be used for its Farm in the Garden Camp program. The single-story building is 18 feet tall and 30-feet-by-50-feet. It is built out of locally harvested and milled trees, including eastern white pine, ash, maple, cherry, walnut, shad, and red oak trees. The funds for the building were donated by Barbara and Melissa Leonhardt in honor of their mother, Anne, who donated the funds through the New York Community Trust.

Scott Brockway, of Berkshire Wood Products in Windsor, is the project manager for the construction of the new Berkshire Botanical Garden building. Photo by Shaw Israel Izikson.

During the barn-raising event on January 21, the organization held a celebration event as the last truss for the building was installed, which included music from a fiddle and guitar duo, old-fashioned apple cider, and a discussion of the project from the people who are putting the building together.

According to Berkshire Botanical Garden Executive Director Thaddeus Thompson, the new building is the first new infrastructure project for the organization since 2017. “It’s going to be a great building for the camp where we will be able to continue to educate the next generation of stewards of the environment,” Thompson told The Berkshire Edge. “It’s also going to be a beautiful place where we can exhibit flower shows. The way I see it, this is a very organic structure that emphasizes the beauty of this material and its incredible craftsmanship. Timber framing is kind of a lost art, and the people we have building this are true craftsmen who have a real passion for wood and building methodologies.

Carpenter and consultant Adam Miller working on the new Berkshire Botanical Garden building on Saturday, Jan. 21. Photo by Shaw Israel Izikson.

Working on the project is Schnopp Construction of Dalton, along with project manager Scott Brockway of Berkshire Wood Products in Windsor, and carpenter Adam Miller, who served as the consultant on the project and created the final designs for the building. “There’s a tradition when it comes to constructing a building out of wood materials,” Brockway said. “It’s a lot of hard work because it’s very tedious and repetitive, but there are craftsmen that carry on this tradition out of passion. We are not using any modern construction materials. There are no steel pegs or joinery being used here. Back when they created buildings 150 to 200 years ago, folks had to use what they had.”

Berkshire Botanical Garden Executive Director Thaddeus Thompson with some of the wooden pegs used for the construction of the building. At the event on Saturday, Jan. 21, Thompson got organization employees, construction workers who are part of the project, and project fund donors Barbara and Melissa Leonhardt to sign the pegs right before they were installed in the building. Photo by Shaw Israel Izikson.
Brockway talks about the building project to an audience as Miller looks on. Photo by Shaw Israel Izikson.

“Nowadays, construction has become about just assembling parts in accordance with local and international building codes,” Brockway said. “Back in the day, construction was real art and craftsmanship.”

Thompson said that the building is expected to be completed by May.

For more information about The Berkshire Botanical Garden go to its website.

Event attendees watch as construction workers put the final truss onto the frame of a barn building at the Berkshire Botanical Garden. Photo by Shaw Israel Izikson.

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