PORT HADLOCK — You’ve come to fertile Chimacum, where work abounds on the organic farms: harvesting lettuce, apples, blueberries, strawberries.
But where will you live?
At the Community Boat Project in nearby Port Hadlock, a variety of people are bent on solving that puzzle.
“This is a prototype,” said project director Wayne Chimenti, looking up at an under-construction tiny home and bath house.
On Tuesday he was surrounded by his staff along with about a dozen Rotary Club of Port Townsend members, hammering, sawing and painting together. This was the second work party following a previous one March 1.
The 160-square-foot house taking shape is named Meadow Manor. On one side it wears a dandelion-themed mural and the Community Boat Project’s “Shelter from the Storm” logo.
The nonprofit organization, which also runs boatbuilding and on-the-water programs for young people, has become a tiny-house manufacturer as well.
“Our next project is for affordable housing for farmworkers,” Chimenti said. “One person or a young couple or even a small family could live in this one. It’s completely self-contained; it has a separate bath house,” also a prototype.
“Imagine a village of 10 or 12 of them in a circle with common ground,” he added, “and they’re all looking so gorgeous,” thanks to mural artist Danielle Fodor and her painting crew.
The Community Boat Project is in the process of forming a partnership with the Jefferson Land Trust to secure property in Chimacum for these farmworker homes, Chimenti said.
Working with the nonprofit Bayside Housing & Services, the project aims to build, furnish and transport these units to where the need is.
Meadow Manor could be finished by the end of this month, Chimenti said.
While the Chimacum land agreement is being finalized, the house is relatively easy to put onto a truck and driven over to one of Bayside’s transitional housing villages, Peter’s Place in Port Hadlock or Pat’s Place in Port Townsend.
The Community Boat Project also built the Golden Fig Cottage, part of Peter’s Place, and Whispering Willow, one of the tiny homes in the Pat’s Place village.
Meadow Manor has taken some five months to finish, Chimenti said, due to the surges in COVID-19 coupled with rough weather this winter. The Rotary Club’s arrival was a welcome turn — and it came with a $10,000 donation to the Community Boat Project.
“This is the first time we’ve all been together in two years,” Rotarian Carla Caldwell said as she wielded her paintbrush.
“This isn’t just shelter,” she added. “We’re making them beautiful.”
Beside her, Cindy Madsen stood on a ladder, painting the purple trim above the home’s back door.
“I grew up painting houses,” she said, since her father was an architect.
This tiny-home prototype differs from the ones built for Peter’s Place and Pat’s Place, Chimenti noted. Meadow Manor is larger. It has storage space, shelving, a tiny kitchen and a ladder up to the full-size loft bed.
So it’s for nimble, younger people, he said.
These homes address the farmworker housing problem. Bayside’s existing villages, in contrast, are made up of single-level shelters comfortable for elderly or disabled people.
Chimenti and his crew also envision a time when people who live in tiny homes can come into the Community Boat Project workshop and build their own tiny bath houses. Having the shower and toilet separate, he said, provides privacy while keeping moisture from getting into the living space.
As ever, the project is also a source of job training. Its educational programs are all free thanks to support from the Jefferson Community Foundation, the Satterberg Foundation of Seattle and the Russell Family Foundation of Gig Harbor, among other grant makers.
Rotarian Jo Nieuwsma said she has relished this work. She admires the project’s focus on young builders.
“The kids here are getting good skills,” she said.
Behind her, working on Meadow Manor’s front door, was non-Rotarian Carol Brannan. She came with her partner, Rick Shaneyfelt, who is a club member. She appreciated the fact that this work party had nobody standing around, wondering what to do.
“It’s such a joy to volunteer for something that’s well-organized,” Brannan said.
Bottom line, she added, “It’s just such a good idea.”