If This Wood Could Speak: The History in Building Traders Point Creamery
Sep 28, 2012 04:58PM
By Gail Alden
Reusing discarded items tends to call to mind milk bottle flower vases or old rubber tire swings but sometimes repurposing used materials looks a lot bigger. For Dr. Fritz Kunz and Jane Elder Kunz it looks like sixty foot wooden timbers and over 100 years of history.
The Kunz’s are the owners of Traders Point Creamery, an organic dairy farm and artisan creamery located in Zionsville, Indiana. Amidst the rolling hills of the 100 acre farm rest four antique barns, each of them with stories as unique as the wood grains in their hand-hewn timbers. Though their current use may be quite different from its original purpose during the 19th century, their structures remain faithful to their original appearance, having been carefully transported and meticulously reconstructed under the guidance of Amos Schwartz, a master craftsman from Berne, IN, who specializes in antique barn reconstruction.
The first barn to be brought to the property was a former stallion barn with beautiful sixty foot cherry timbers; it is now used as the farm’s equipment barn, with a long rocking-chair porch that overlooks the farm pond.
The Kunz’s also secured two “sister” barns from a property in Geneva, Indiana, that date to the 1870s. One, originally a pig sty, was reworked into a tandem-style milking parlor. Here the farmers milk fifty to sixty Brown Swiss cows twice a day.
The third barn, known simply as the big Red Barn, is a German heritage-style bank barn, with two levels that allowed for animals to be kept below and for hay to be threshed and stored above. Today it has been repurposed into an exclusive event venue used for weddings, private parties, and other special events. In a modern twist on its historic dual purpose, the lower level houses the milking herd during the winter and the upper level offers a rustic space for unique gatherings under vaulted wooden ceilings. In addition, the farm’s weekly winter Green Market and annual Oktoberfest and Christmas on the Farm festivals allow thousands of community members to enjoy the Red Barn as well as the rest of the farm.
The busiest of the four antique barns houses the Loft Restaurant, the creamery’s cheese production, and the Farm Store that sells award-winning organic, 100% grassfed milks and yogurts. It is an 1860s structure from Bluffton, Indiana, near the Wabash River. The hand-hewn beams recall the days before sawmills, when even the wooden pegs were carved by hand. When the dismantled barn came to Traders Point Creamery, the Kunz’s relied on Jim Kienle, a historic preservation architect, to fit its rotation and placement to the natural shape of the land; Kienle was integral to the design and reconstruction of all the barns on the property. By organically melding the structure and the landscape, Kienle and the Kunz’s were able to mimic the harmonious relationship between the natural and human worlds that the farm seeks to sustain. This same vision for holistic integration inspired the creation of the Loft Restaurant, an on-site farm-to-table restaurant. The barn setting lends both elegance and authenticity to complement the seasonal organic food and artisan homemade ice cream treats from the dairy bar. Guests enjoy the soaring ceiling timbers and the view of the creamery’s cheese cave while dining in a space shared with all those Hoosiers who have used the barn for more than a century.
Why go to such great lengths of effort and expense to populate a farm with antique barns, one might wonder? Repurposing barns is one piece of their total vision for environmental and health consciousness. It is the same reason why they use organic farming methods, feed their cows solely on grass, and package all their dairy products in glass. For the Kunz’s, it is also a matter of choosing what is timeless over what is merely temporary, choosing what is grounded in a real place rather than what could be found on land anywhere in the country, and choosing what preserves the “work of mankind” to unite it with the work of nature. In the process they are proving that repurposing can be sustainable and beautiful at any size.