By Kara Buchanan
The wood-fired pizza ovens, located conveniently between the various gardens, offer a place for gathering, getting to know one another and fostering familiarity among various organizations, programs and individual around Rock Point.
From the beginning, the first wood-fired pizza oven at Rock Point was a community driven project! Emily Portman and other members of the Homeward Bound Collective (HBC) garden built it in 2016 with the help of property manager, Chuck Courcy, who secured local materials, and UVM donated the essential kiln stones for the oven floor. The Youth Build organization created a roof for the oven as well as other elements of the adjacent Outdoor classroom, such as the sink area and work tables. The Outdoor classroom had recently been designed and built by UVM environmental architecture class. The setting was complete, and the gardeners started baking!
The HBC hosts weekly pizza potluck after their scheduled workdays, inviting other gardeners to join, bringing ingredients and harvests to share. Other gardens, such as the Rooted Heart Rising (RHR) herb garden, host their Spoonful Herbals students, CSA members and partners for events highlighting harvests from the garden, such as wild weeds pesto and nettle-infused dough, made by chef Kevin Douglas at Rock Point School.
The Burlington Area Community Gardens, Rock Point School staff and students, The RP Summer camp staff, Crows Path camps, the Diocesan office staff and volunteer docents all make use of the pizza oven and consider it a fabulous resource for gathering folks together and enjoying delicious harvests in a beautiful outdoor setting.
Being a rather small oven, it lends itself best to not-so-large gatherings. A second small oven was recently built to help entertain larger groups, with the donation of more materials from RPS and help from folks from Burlington Permaculture. Partners sign up to reserve the oven and/or the classroom space on a shared calendar, and it is enjoyed often throughout the warmer months. The ovens have provided a delicious way to build community connections at Rock Point!