Hawthorne Valley Farm Store

Project PDF
The Farm Store

The Hawthorne Valley farm is a biodynamic enterprise which strives for self sufficiency, meaning all farm manure and compost are on a closed loop system, and no outside fertilizers or pesticides are used. The farm owners are dedicated to building a sustainable local & regional organic food system through their business model. Such an environmentally conscious organization clearly needed a building that would support its mission while serving as the farm’s public face.

To be sited in a small country hamlet in Upstate New York, C&H was careful to design the Farm Store as a vibrant node in the community, while not overwhelming the existing scale of the village. This building is a good neighbor, as well as a healthy and comfortable place to work and shop.

Project Details

The building materials embody durability, simplicity and clarity. In many cases, structure was left exposed as finish, exhibiting an honesty of function in the final product. This also allows for simpler maintenance and retrofitting over time.

The exterior walls are made of a dry-stacked insulated concrete form, Durisol, which is comprised of waste wood and cement, and has a furnace slag mineral wool insulation plug. The Durisol is plastered or simply painted on the interior, and traditionally stuccoed outside.

The floors are stained and polished concrete. The ceiling is the structural wood planking that spans between the wood and steel trusses of the roof.

The primary electric lighting is ambient compensating dimming in conjunction with daylighting.

Hot water is produced via heat exchangers that recycle waste heat from the produce coolers and freezers.


As with many retail operations, the store must accept bulk deliveries from vehicles whose scale is completely unsympathetic to its setting. Our solution was to break the building mass in two. The front is scaled down and oriented toward the street, maintaining the orthogonal progression of small residential buildings along the road. The bulk of the building, however, is oriented almost perpendicularly, so as to encourage manageable circulation of the 18-wheeler delivery vehicles and screen them from the peopled outdoor areas.

The building is substantially oriented to the noon sun, usefully defining community spaces and illuminating mezzanine workspaces and the bakery, which had previously been located in a basement. Clerestories and southern windows allow diffused daylight and sunlight to enter the store, displacing electric artificial lighting and providing stimulating shopping, working and community spaces.

The structure/finish materials are chemically inert, incompatible with mold growth, and impenetrable to rodents. Durisol is highly alkaline and the envelope is carefully conceived to eliminate all thermal bridge-induced moldy manifestations. Particular attention through the post-occupancy has positively established our success in the endeavor to maintain superlative indoor air quality.

Project Team


C&H Architects, Amherst MA


Sano Rubin, Albany NY

Landscape Architect

Civil Engineer

Berkshire Design Group, Northampton MA

Structural Engineer

Ryan Hellwig, PE, Northampton MA

Mechanical Engineer

Kohler & Lewis, Keene NH

Visiting Student Program

Ten years after designing the Hawthorne Valley Farm Store, C&H was asked back to design housing for the Farm’s Visiting Student Program. This program serves over 500 children per year and encourages children and adults to reconnect with nature, farming, and the deep connection between soil, food, and community. The housing project fills a niche both physically and programatically in the Hawthorne Valley landscape that includes a K-12 school, creamery, fermentation facility, gardens, a food store (designed by C&H in 2003), craft space, community space and more; all nestled into a 400 acre biodynamic Farm.

C&H worked extensively with Hawthorne Valley Farm to understand the specific program needs for this project. The cycles of a typical week at the farm were documented, and close attention given to the pros and cons of the existing VSP facilities in the village. Most spaces were designed to wear multiple hats, such as the kitchen, which would act as both daily food preparation area and a teaching space, and a 3-season porch, which serves as summer dining room and rainy day activity zone.

The space needs are met by a series of small “houses” that continue the feel of the surrounding village. Architecturally, it meets the street in tune with the local vernacular, leading a student down an entry porch and into the world of the farm. A series of porches connect the buildings and create varied outdoor learning environments and gathering spaces. The small site is carefully filled to maximize outdoor spaces.

As of today, this project is unbuilt, but the work C&H has done has provided The Hawthorne Valley Farm with crucial planning information  to inform their future expansion plans.




27 A5.1 _ Autorebuild Model




In 2012 C&H returned to Hawthorne Valley to explore the addition of a creamery and expanded cafe space to the Farm Store we designed nearly a decade previously.

The project program included milk processing spaces for the production of cheese and yogurt, as well as expanded retail, office, and auxiliary areas. C&H planned this addition as a bend in the main store orientation, creating a protected zone on the road facades, similar to a traditional farmyard.