Perhaps, on your way past Slip Away Farm, you have noticed a new structure being built behind the old farmhouse. Last week, Collins Heavener, my friend and farming partner, along with the help of 16 others, raised the walls on a new timber frame barn. The barn, built from Island wood milled by Collins over the last year, is the realization of a multi-year dream.

Collins began his company, Marshall Farm Wood-Works, three and a half years ago, designing and building beautiful custom furniture out of Slip Away’s basement woodshop. The name, Marshall Farm Wood-Works, is a nod to Bob and Ruth Marshall who originally owned the land that now houses Slip Away. Bob was quite the collector and many Chappaquiddickers still remember the piles of stuff he kept out back. Cynthia Hubbard told me that, as a child, she loved going over to the Marshall property because Bob would always let her pick something out to take home. We have found remnants of his collection all over those fields: the plow has turned up old stoves, boat engine blocks, tools, car parts and various scraps of metal.

Over the years, Collins has methodically and skillfully built Marshall Farm Wood-Works, attracting more customers with each passing year. He spends his winters as a full-time woodworker, and then, when the weather warms up, divides his time between the shop and the farm fields. Sharing infrastructure, tools and resources between our two businesses has been a good partnership, one I am continuously thankful for.

The basement shop is vastly inadequate for a woodworker with a growing business as it is a very narrow space with low ceilings. When we first moved in, Collins had to replace all the low-hanging light bulbs with flatter fluorescent tubes because he kept shattering them with his forehead. In order to flip a piece of wood that has any length to it, Collins must walk the piece entirely out of the shop before turning it and walking it back in. High humidity and low ventilation also contribute to the shop space being less than ideal for woodworking.

We have always wanted to have a barn at Slip Away and last year Collins decided to take on the project in order to build a space that could house Marshall Farm Wood-Works. He invested in a sawmill and began collecting trees from all over Chappy and the rest of the Island. Earlier this fall, with the help of our friend Miles Shorey, he began construction and last week they were ready to raise the walls.

In attendance were Chappaquiddickers Margaret Knight, Sidney, Lily and Elliot Morris, Zander Auerbach, Zach Pinerio, Branko Dugalic, Lucy Leopold and Allen Slater. Andrew Woodruff, owner of Whippoorwill Farm in West Tisbury, manned the tractor, using ropes as a safety precaution as everyone lifted the heavy beams. Once the beams reached a certain height, others stepped in with long poles, the same ones used to raise the walls of the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Hall, to lift them the rest of the way and into place.

Collins said he felt like they had just the right number of hands available, any less and the task would not have gone so smoothly. All were treated to cornbread and chili afterward. This week, on Saturday, Nov. 24, from 1 to 3 p.m., the Chappy Community Center is hosting an open house and craft fair. Local artists will be selling their crafts and the new 2019 Chappy calendar will be available for all. Refreshments will be served. I hope to see you there.

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