April 11, 2016
The other day, on the way home from shopping in the Quarry area, I took a detour to stroll down River Avenue.
This area is part of what used to be known as Cochrane’s ‘industrial Park’. About 20 years ago, the area was really what we commonly call “mixed-use” because it was dotted with residences built in the early 1900s. One old house in particular, located at 125 River, was familiar to me, and has been Home to a number of families during Cochrane’s 113 years as a community. I wasn’t expecting to come across 125 River Avenue in Its current state. It took my breath away and made me stop.
The old home has been carefully maintained. The front yard Is fully landscaped, with a water fountain and gazebo, and the walkway to the front porch had just been planted with perennials and even boasts a few annuals and pansies in full bloom. What is so special about the home Is that it now houses a growing industry – On Growing Works. Rather than tear down the old house that has been there for years, the company has retained its structural integrity and is using the building to showcase sustainability in action.
The landscaping is fully Irrigated with snowmelt and rainwater that is collected through a system of eavestroughs and pipes and stored in an underground cistern. The water is pumped through the water fountain for aeration purposes, and winks noisily to the passerby. As l stood there simply looking and appreciating the construction innovations, one of the owners came out to chat and welcome me. He said the company hopes to use the collected storm drainage co flush toilets and for other uses that do not require potable water in the future, and that they are working with the town, Alberta low Impact Development Partnership and Cochrane Environmental Action Committee to become more conscious of water as a precious resource.
While I stood there in awe of the beauty of simple design, I learned how they use the site to teach Cochrane’s school children on such topics as water scarcity. biodiversity, solar energy, natural construction materials and sustainability. Over time, school children have been exposed to several aspects of landscape design and construction, and have learned how the company collaborates with land and home owners to create beautiful functioning living spaces using only natural materials, such as rocks, timber and indigenous plants species. This weekend, the company was even hosting a workshop to install solar panels on the historic building and teach others how to install parts in their own homes.
On Growing Works is a thriving local business located in the middle of the industrial park, and is there for each of us to explore. It is not just a business, it is a demonstration that it is possible to live each day connected to others, embracing sustainable business practices. It is learning, innovation and ingenuity in form. If you want to visit 125 River Avenue, I suggest you park your car in the Quarry and walk over – if you drive by, even on a bike you will likely miss it. Take a stroll in their lovely garden that local bird species have already found this spring and bring a lunch to enjoy in their timber frame gazebo that school children helped to build. This is a place to simply relax and experience the sights and sounds of human beings living harmoniously in nature within one of the busiest areas of Cochrane, while pursuing a healthy and sustainable work life.
~by Judy Stewart: Cochrane Times
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