Photo by Aidan D'Anna

Garden Club to construct cob oven, cook vegetables

The Lewis & Clark Garden Club is constructing an outdoor wood-fired cob oven outside of the co-op under Tamarack. Garden Club wants to use the oven to bring the community together and cook food grown in the Forest garden. A cob oven consists of two parts: the base, in this case, made from cinder blocks, and the actual oven made out of sand, clay, and straw.

“The correct combination of these elements creates a very strong, heat- resistant, and insulative cob that is perfect for constructing a wood-fired oven,” according to the Garden Club’s proposal for funding to the administration. 

Peter Huizenga ’20 was responsible for the idea and original proposal for the oven. 

“I actually have one at my house (in Vermont) … it really brings people together,” Huizenga said. “The idea is that everyone can use it.”

Feb. 22 was the Garden Club’s first building day for the oven. Club members gathered outside the co-op and began to scrape away rocks using shovels to make sure the ground was level before they began to lay the foundation for the oven. They then started to mix cement in an old wheelbarrow and eventually spread it onto cinder blocks they had arranged in a square on the ground. The base of the oven is four layers of cinder blocks high. 

Lucas Martinez ’20, co-president of Garden Club, spoke about the purpose of the oven. 

“This is a part of our greater goal of getting projects through Garden Club, Peter (Huizenga) approached me with this idea of building a cob oven,” Martinez said. “This is a really good (project) for the garden because it’s kind of food-oriented, and it uses a type of architecture that is sustainable.”

Garden Club hopes that the oven will help bypass some of the challenges that come with gardening in the Pacific Northwest climate.

 “The Pacific Northwest has really fertile soil, but there’s really only one major season for gardening and that’s late spring and summer … so then most of the school year is when the garden is most unproductive so there’s really only so much you can do,” Martinez said. “Hopefully what can happen is we can start preserving things and canning things … and in some way, the bounty of the garden can be used in some way in this oven.”

Garden Club also hopes that this oven can be a place for students to come together to cook the food that they have grown themselves in the garden.

Rylie Neely ’20, also co-president of Garden Club, commented on her hopes for the collaborative aspect of the oven.

“We have lots of people who are interested in the garden,” Neely said.  “We’d like to hopefully involve some students who are not involved in Garden Club, and hopefully pique their interest in maybe joining something they haven’t joined before …  I think it’s a really cool way to bring people together.”

The oven will be maintained jointly by Garden Club and the co-op.

“What will probably happen is there will be a calendar, and you have to reserve it a week or two in advance and ideally you get in contact with either the co-op or the Garden (Club) and that will be the way that you reserve it …  but the hope is that it’s open to everyone,” Martinez said.

Garden Club finished building the structure of the oven on Feb. 29 and is still working to complete the design. The club will be hosting a kickoff pizza party once the oven is ready to be opened to the public. 

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