Volunteers work to renovate the farmery at The Children’s Home

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Volunteers work to renovate the farmery at The Children's Home farm. (Andrew Dye/Journal)

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Volunteers hammered, shoveled and dodged raindrops on Thursday as they pitched in to help The Children’s Home construct a new headquarters for its farm operation inside an old building beside the barn on the home’s farm, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.

When done, the “Farmery” will have space for two offices, a cool room, a walk-in cooler, a sales area and a produce-washing area as well as a bathroom, home officials said.

Volunteers from the Home Builders Association of Winston-Salem, the men’s group from Ardmore United Methodist Church, Habitat for Humanity and people who have been working to keep farm operations going at the home.

The farm volunteers put together a plan to keep farm operations going after The Children’s Home decided earlier in the year to give away its farm animals amid a restructuring brought about by a cash squeeze. Under the plan, The Children’s Home Farm Cart offers fresh vegetables including tomatoes, zucchini, squash, cucumbers, eggplants, peppers and eggs.

When the building is finished, the home will be able to use it as a place to sell its farm products.

Volunteer Dan Gentry said the volunteers showed up at 8 a.m. Thursday and went right to work:

“They just attacked it and cleared the inside of a whole bunch of junk and had all that done by 9:30,” Gentry said. “The building wasn’t being used for anything.”

Ron Ricci, the vice president of the Home Builders, said his group was excited to help out.

“We have all been concerned about The Children’s Home and want to do our part to help out,” Ricci said. “They will raise money by selling the produce, and to do that, they need a store.”

Ricci said he said been doing “odds and ends” as part of the volunteer effort.

“I pulled out the old hot water heater, helped take off the front porch and helped take out the wall in the old bathroom,” he said.

Volunteers were planning to continue today, although a postponement of work could happen if the group gets a downpour.

Fowler Ruffin, one of the volunteers, said that more help will be needed later for tasks such as landscaping, painting and furnishing.

The building’s redesign was done by local architect Jeff Brinker of Brinker Designs.

Volunteer Debbie Williams, a member of the church whose day job is teaching, said that she was helping out because her job keeps her from doing much volunteer work during the school term.

“Whenever they do something that I can do, I try to help,” she said. She found herself adept at swinging a mallet as she and other volunteers chipped away at an old chimney.

“I’m finding that I’m better at tearing up than building,” she said. “I’m good at picking things up and throwing them away.”

Williams said that she was impressed by the work others were doing.

“I am truly amazed at the transformation,” she said.