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  • Writer's pictureKeith Tribe

Home grown

With fall quickly making itself comfortable, this month I wanted to talk about what it means to be home grown in my world. When I first started making frames, I was using barn board that I stumbled on from the area. As I've grown in my business and learning more about this incredible wood, I've come to a greater appreciation for it every day.

Hopefully it's no surprise, but barn board comes from actual, real barns. The most amazing thing about barn board is that every single piece has a history. I've got a few barn board suppliers in the area that take down local barns and the stories I've acquired from the suppliers who have been given the history from the barn owners is incredible. From barns that housed their livestock, to barns that were abandoned for generations, the history stored in the wood literally comes to life when I give it a new purpose.

The beauty of a barn in nature!

I was at a barn this past weekend near Coldwater with my local barn board supplier as he was taking the barn down. I was there to see every board come off the walls to find the perfect stock for winter. It would come down, he would de-nail it, and I would cut it to length and stack it in my trailer. As I was watching the process, completely in awe of the construction from so many decades ago, it really hit home how special barn board is. This barn and the wood made someones financial support, fed their family, marked their land, and created a backdrop for our stunning region.

When the frames I make from this wood are finished, someone will be holding a piece of wood that until that moment had three resting places: The tree that it once was (truly home grown Canadiana), the barn that it helped shape, and my workshop. Not many products made now can hold that claim. It's why I get goosebumps when I think of how unique this stuff really is.

I've been asked what will happen when all the barns are taken down and no barn board is left, and my response is always, "when it's gone, it's gone"! I love that concept because what I make is unique just like the tree that grew, like the barn that was built, and the memories that were stored in it.

The junction between the modern world and the old world near Orillia, ON

I've scoured the internet and have yet to find anyone framing things exactly like Rustic Works. I do what I do because I love it, and working with something that is timeless yet finite has a real sense of importance to me. I keep every bit of the wood to use for smaller and smaller frames. Nothing is casually tossed aside or wasted.

Early on with Rustic Works I was asked by Ontario Wood to join their program. As I looked into it further, I realized it was a perfect fit. Their program is designed to connect businesses that use Ontario based wood products to real customers. They have a drive to promote sustainability, build local economy, and to provide information about how we use wood and why Ontario wood has such great benefits for everyone involved. They often will have large sections of trade shows entirely dedicated to products created using Ontario wood. They will be once again at the upcoming Cottage Life Fall Show (Show info) and that's where you'll find me October 20-22nd!

Come check my booth out and we can chat about your project ideas. As well, take the time to walk through the whole Ontario Wood section. What you'll see is craftspeople just like me who have a passion for their product that truly is, home grown.

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