If you’ve spent an afternoon on our outdoor patio recently, sipping on a freshly-squeezed juice or enjoying the selections from our salad bar, you may have noticed a small construction project going up in our teaching garden on the south side of our building.
Long-time owner Tom Kackman has donated the labor and materials to build an arbor that will be the centerpiece of our teaching gardens for years to come. When completed, it will include a screen for growing vine plants, a bench for seating and a birdhouse.
Kackman, who has owned Rebuild and Restore in Lakeville for 34 years, finds joy in his passion for teaching people about organic foods, and his hobby for building arbors. He manages the Woodhill Community Garden in Burnsville and has built two arbors for their space. The idea of adding an arbor to our teaching garden came to him as he sat on the patio enjoying lunch, and he thought it would be a way to say thank you for all that Valley Natural Foods has meant to him over the years.
“VNF has been a big supporter for us over at Woodhill over the years, and have also hired me for small projects in the store,” Kackman said. “I thought it would be a nice way to bless them.”
The arbor is not only beautiful and a great way to demonstrate how to grow climbing plants, it is also a visual representation of two of our values at Valley – community and sustainability. The wood for the arbor is reclaimed lumber from a small barn Kackman helped take down in Hutchinson, MN. The vines and climbing plants will take hold on a screen salvaged from a building being torn down in St. Paul. And the birdhouse that sits atop the structure was created from recycled deck boards. A project like this helps reuse materials that would otherwise have been buried in a landfill, while maintaining the history of the region by keeping the spirit of these buildings alive.
Kackman felt this most directly while disassembling the barn in Hutchinson – a difficult task considering how well the barn was originally built. “As I was tearing the barn down, I was imagining what life was like back then and wondering about the person who was able to do such accurate tongue and groove joints without the use of power tools.” Kackman feels that only “a true craftsman” would be capable of such a feat.
For Kackman, projects like this are more than just making something aesthetically pleasing or a tie to the past. They are an example of being able to take what might be discarded and making something that will have a new, useful life in the future. This metaphor is not lost on Tom, who finds a link between a project like this and his own spirituality. “God does that with our lives,” said Kackman. “He can make something beautiful out of someone that seemed headed for the junk pile.”
Valley Natural Foods is grateful to Tom for his donation of this beautiful arbor. Please take the time to admire Tom’s own craftsmanship the next time you enjoy lunch or a refreshing drink on our patio!