The Shed: a Modern Grange in Healdsburg

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Photos: Mariko Reed
Sketches: Jensen Architects
On the photo above: Main entrance on North street


Founded in 1867 as a fraternal organization that advocates for agriculture and rural America, the National Grange is a nonprofit organization, “with a strong history in grassroots activism, family values and community service.” The Grange was founded by a group of men, led by Oliver Hudson Kelly, in an effort to protect farmers after the Civil War. Essentially a political movement, the Grange quickly exploded to over 1,000 fraternal organization just 5 years after its formation. Today, California alone has over 12,000 members and 200 Granges.

As an organization, the Grange continues to contribute to the small town values that originally made this brotherhood an attractive order in towns across America. The Grange brings community members together with a focus on food, farming, and helpful education. The Grange ultimately promotes a more sustainable future. At the root of this definition of sustainability is the need to provide solutions for environmental, economic and social issues. Of these three issues, the Grange offers an opportunity to improve upon social issues that still hamper American cities by creating a deeper connection within communities in order to create lasting friendships. Much like the principles of the Grange, Healdsburg’s SHED is built around the ideas of preparing food, gathering people together, and teaching the community about a more sustainable future. “I wanted to create a place that illustrated the whole food cycle: how do we grow food, how do we cook food, and how do we come together around food,” describes Cindy Daniel when asked about why SHED was born. As the history of the Grange tells us, this connection to food that Daniel is so passionate about is not new and has not disappeared from our culture. Through creative business and community models it is seeing a resurgence. SHED is a combination of a commercial center for food, wine, and tools, and a community for those interested in learning more about the agricultural world. This building exemplifies an adaptation to an age old community through commercialization, and it may be something to help bring the younger generations into the agricultural profession.

First floor of the building.
Outdoor seating on North street.


The purpose of SHED actually sheds light on a much bigger movement. The U.S. Department of Agriculture published a report showing that between 1998 and 2009 farmers markets in America nearly doubled. Over 5,200 markets now exist where local goods can be purchased by communities with a much bigger interest in keeping jobs, revenues, and food local. The “Sustainability” movement touched America with great ferocity over the past two decades, and the public became well aware that sustainability also meant keeping local economies fueled through community support. In terms of farming, not only do local farmer’s markets help keep jobs in the community, but it also reduces the carbon footprint required to bring food to the table. Mother Nature would stand up and shake these community’s hands for becoming “locavores.”

Jessica Prentice, a Berekley, Calif.-based chef, coined the term “locavore” which is defined as a movement in which people seek to eat locally grown foods. Though “local” is defined as those foods available within a 100-mile radius, in an interview with the

Second floor of the building.

Associated Press Prentice commented that locavorism was much more about “buying from people that you know or can meet and buying food grown in a place that you can easily drive to and see.” In 2012, the first Locavore Index was released by the Vermont-based community agriculture organization, Strolling of the Heffers, where they analyzed data from the USDA and U.S. Census to find out that the number of farmers markets and Community Supported Agricultural enterprises are on the rise around the nation. Eating and buying local produce was having a tremendous impact on local farmers, and local farmer’s markets; it even was helping to revitalize some small towns.

In 2011, the nonprofit Project H even showed the world how a simple building dedicated to helping promote local farmer’s markets could revitalize small towns. Project H, an organization that empowers high school students through a classroom-based design-build program for public design projects, built a 2,000-square-foot farmer’s market pavilion for the town of Windsor in Bertie County, N.C. The story of this project, the Windsor Super Market, has been covered in many main stream media outlets, and even a documentary film entitled “If You Build It”. The success of the project, according to Project H, is measured in the fact that two new businesses and 15 new jobs were created because of this pavilion building. The connection between local farmer’s markets and small town economies is definitely apparent in even the smallest of rural towns. The correlating factor between the Windsor Super Market and Healdsburg’s SHED is the presence of a building, structure, or space dedicated to advocating for farming.

Outdoor deck adjacent to raingarden.


Daniel recalls that the idea of SHED “came from [their] lives, [their] interest in food, from being part of the community, and wanting to personally create a place where all the things [they] were interested in were under one roof”. The idea did not come from some spur-of-the-moment entrepreneurial scheme or fleeting fascination. Daniel and Lipton met in college, and at that time Daniel recalls that she became fascinated in both Lipton and farming after seeing Lipton creating his own composting bin. Their collective love-affair with the land began long before Healdsburg was their home. The two have now spent decades in the Healdsburg area and have really become entrenched in farming and sustainable practices. SHED was not only born from the need to provide an outlet for their own local farm and produce, but also from a desire to enrich the community through a multi-faceted store.


In 2009, when Daniel and Lipton approached Jensen Architects, the program and ideas were pretty well-developed. Daniel and Lipton approached Jenson Architects because of their interest in a building typology from a previous building the firm designed for the California College of the Arts. The precedent that they liked was a modern interpretation of the old barn building typology. For years, Daniel and Lipton had been mesmerized by the many barns in the Healdsburg region, so much that Daniel said it took a lot of effort to not stop every five minutes and show a “new”-old barn to their children. Lucky for the design team, Principal Architect Mark Jensen was very familiar with the region. His own father still resides near Healdsburg. The project seemed like a slam dunk since Jensen, Daniel, and Lipton shared a common love for the region and the architectural typology.


Lead by Mark Jensen and Project Architect Lincoln Lighthill, the design team began diving into the well-developed program, and analyzing the site their client had chosen in downtown Healdsburg. The client’s site had a couple great things going for it, according to Lighthill. Not only was the site close to the downtown square, which made it accessible to pedestrian traffic, but it also was located across the street from the existing Saturday farmer’s market. Therefore, the design team knew that it was important to design spaces such as a pedestrian friendly front plaza into the project in order to stitch together the urban fabric of what already existed, contextually. Concurrently, the team recognized that the client’s desire for the design to reflect a barn vernacular would not be too far of a stretch for the community to approve this modern project.

With the help of their consultants and their sustainably-minded manufacturers, the team quickly settled on a pre-fabricated metal building frame, commonly known as a Butler Building, as their structural system. “Butler Building” is a common construction term to represent similar metal building systems, which was named after the Butler Manufacturing Company which manufactures this pre-fabricated metal building system. The Butler Building frame was a construction system that “represented both thebarn shape and connection to that rural heritage, as well as a very forward thinking and modern way of building,” said Lighthill. Combined with an insulated metal wall panel system, this building envelope is composed of 70% recycled steel and assembled in a way to reduce construction energy demand. Other sustainable initiatives utilized in the design of SHED included: an energy-efficient HVAC system, photovoltaic panels, natural ventilation, natural sun-shading, pervious pavement, and a restoration of the adjacent riparian creekside habitat. A ten foot wide planter bed between the creek and SHED was turned into a rain-garden in order to retain 100% of the site’s rainwater before slowly discharging into the creek. This rain-garden doesn’t just help to prevent flooding during rainstorms, but it has also been designed to teach visitors about creek restoration and stormwater. The team realized that this building could be just as much an educational tool for the community as it could be a beautiful piece of architecture.

Fermentation bar.
Farm and Garden.
Outdoor deck.

This helped to propagate Daniel and Lipton’s commitment to sustainability for all aspects of SHED.

As the building’s design began to take shape, the use of local labor and craftsmen became increasingly important to the team. Daniel and Lipton also felt that if this was going to be a building for Healdsburg, then engaging local construction businesses would help instill a sense of ownership and pride in the community. It was a successful idea. Lighthill recalls that that he “had the Chief Building Inspector say to [him] how thankful he was for how many local people were kept employed by the

project at a time when jobs were so scarce”. Literally, since SHED was designed as a pre-engineered shell, the expansive interior space became a blank canvas for the work of local craftsmen. Salvaged wood, locally sourced artisan tile, perforated metal, stone, and glazing are a few of the materials that represent work from locals.Having the building be constructed by local groups also helped to keep the negative environmental impact from the construction low. Less distance to travel for contractors and subcontractors meant a smaller carbon-footprint. Therefore, Daniel and Lipton ultimately got their sustainable, home-grown business, to be designed in a way that not only touched the local economy, but also the environment.


Since SHED’s completion in March of 2013, the community of Healdsburg, and the flocks of tourists that come to Sonoma County, have experienced this building as a melting pot of activity. Just as Daniel and Lipton originally programmed, SHED is a myriad of spaces dedicated to sustainable farming lifestyle. The slew of program spaces inside this 10,800 square foot agrarian building include a coffee bar, a fermentation bar, an artisan café, a communal kitchen, a store full of local and artisan products, and a large meeting space. People come to SHED to eat and drink from a variety of “locavore” products in their cafe. Sustainably sourced goods sit next to well-crafted cookware and garden tools in SHED’s store. Most importantly, the large, sun-drenched second floor meeting room, known as “the Grange,”has adopted the characteristics of its namesake organization, and it brings people together for a variety of events focused on community. Recently, speakers such as Michael Pollan, Davia Nelson, and Severine von Tscharner Fleming have graced the building in order to present in front of hundreds of locals. “The client had the public good in mind,” says Lighthill about SHED, “and in a time of dwindling public resources we often see private enterprise stepping into the gap”. SHED ultimately promotes how a community can become resilient by relying on one another for the bare essentials. Sometimes the bare essentials means educating someone on how to live sustainably. In this culture and economy, the most important component, when it comes to resiliency, is your community. Will those people in your community knock on your door and help you when you are in need? SHED provides a place for people to eat, shop, learn, and meet. SHED and its programs are more about creating a resilient community than any other local commercial enterprise in recent history. There is no doubt that Cindy and Doug’s dream turned reality will be a case study for how architecture and entrepreneurialism can help draw a community back to its roots.

The Grange-Flexible event space.

Healdsburg, CA, United States

Cindy Daniel and Doug Lipton

Cafe, Retail, Event Space

March 2013

Jensen Architects

Russian Riverkeeper, Don McEnhill

CBC Steel Buildings, ZFA Structural Engineers

Guttmann & Blaevoet Consulting Engineers

Jensen Architects

Lavish Automation

Terry Hill

Oliver & Company