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Introducing the Ben and Rose Puchniak Woodworking Studio

Posted on February 22, 2021

Sustainability is at the core of everything we do. So when building the latest addition to FortWhyte Farms, the Ben and Rose Puchniak Woodworking Studio, we knew it needed to have as little impact on the environment as possible.

Sun Certified Builders Co-op Ltd. took on the challenge, building one of the most energy efficient commercial buildings in the province from initial construction to ongoing energy consumption.

A rendering of the Ben and Rose Woodworking Studio in summer. A cream colour building is lit by the warm glow of a setting sun. Uncut grass surrounds it.

“The woodworking studio will be energy efficient, have low carbon emissions from both its operation and construction, will have optimal interior air quality and thermal comfort, have resilient exterior finishes that are recyclable, and will continue to be an example of the potential for commercial buildings in these areas for many decades.

— Evan Proven, Vice President of Sun Certified Builders Co.

This exciting new building at FortWhyte Farms will help expand the youth program by providing a dedicated space for woodworking. In addition to the skills youth are already learning — gardening, cooking, and leadership to name a few — youth will now also gain hands-on experience in a growing trade in Manitoba: carpentry.

Five teenagers smile to the camera in the kitchen, two wear black aprons.
A group of FortWhyte Farm youth carry the boat they built.

By using Passive House building techniques, the Ben and Rose Puchniak Woodworking Studio is an example of how sustainability can be achieved when we stay committed to our mission. Sun Certified reduced their environmental waste by using organic building materials, insulation made from recycled paper, and focused on indoor temperature management to reduce the need for heating and air conditioning throughout the changing seasons.

None of this would be possible without the generous support of FortWhyte Alive champions, Bob and Marnie Puchniak.

Bob has been visiting FortWhyte Alive since the 1950s, when his parents, Ben and Rose, would take his family for regular nature walks through the old Canada Cement property. Bob and his wife Marnie continued this tradition with their own family, and together they developed an appreciation for nature. In fact, it was their family’s experiences at FortWhyte Alive that inspired two of their daughters to become wildlife biologists.

Two Sun Certified employees, Marnie and Bob Puchniak, and Liz Wilson from FortWhyte Alive stand in front of the building site for the new woodworking studio. All wear bright orange vests and hard hats.

“Over the past fifty years we have witnessed the transformation of a rather unsightly, open pit clay mine to a modern centre of sustainability where people of all ages and all backgrounds can experience nature firsthand and better understand its intricacies.

— Bob Puchniak

Knowing just how transformative nature can be, when the opportunity to support FortWhyte Alive’s growing social enterprise arose, they knew they wanted to be a part of it.

“We are pleased to support this initiative of moving the woodworking studio from the garage to a permanent place of its own…It also provides us with the opportunity to remember my parents, Ben and Rose, who introduced us to the wonders of FortWhyte.”

It is with our deepest gratitude that we thank Bob and Marnie for their incredible generosity. Their dedication to a sustainable future means youth will gain valuable employable skills, helping grow the future change makers of our community.