Environmental Works News December 2015

Brender Creek

Solid & Secure Seasonal Homes for Farmworkers

Near the confluence of the Wenatchee and Columbia rivers, where the mountains of the Central Cascades give way to orchards, Brender Creek winds its way quietly through the nooks and crannies of the valley in the town of Cashmere. Hot sun bakes this landscape in the summer and fall as farmworkers harvest abundant apple and cherry crops that blanket the valley and nearby foothills. Finding safe, clean and reliable housing has often been difficult for many farmworkers who perform this difficult physical labor each year. The Washington Growers League’s most recent project, Brender Creek farmworker housing just closed out its first season of operation providing shelter for 200 seasonal farmworkers. The Office of Rural and Farmworker Housing was the development consultant, coordinating all aspects of the project from feasibility through project completion.

Radiating off of a central commons building, a series of two-story lodgings with covered porches create a homelike atmosphere. Workers leave for the orchards at 5 am each day; when they return mid-afternoon, the porches provide a shady spot to relax and enjoy outdoor community time. The living units are arranged as 4-bedroom and 6-bedroom apartments, with two stacked apartments per building. Each apartment features a central communal kitchen and dining area sized to accommodate 16 to 20 residents per unit. Bedrooms are designed for three or four individuals, with the three-bed rooms reserved for families. A children’s outdoor playground is near the central common building so parents can keep a watchful eye on play. The development provides community and environmental benefit as well, through a wetland restoration conducted by volunteers with the Cascadia Conservation District.

Designed by Environmental Works and built by Walker Construction, Brender Creek offers durability and sustainability in both design and humanitarian focus; materials were chosen for longevity and minimal maintenance to keep operational costs affordable while private, securable spaces provide workers with peace of mind. Community spaces provide room for ESL classes and for human service organizations to provide health screenings and information on daycare. Residents appreciate the programs and the security of living in protected space – no longer do they need to worry about what might happen to their belongings while they are working during the day, and with the ability to lock doors at night, families can sleep easier.

To learn more about the Washington Grower’s League go to www.growersleague.org, and for the Office of Rural and Farmworker Housing go to www.orfh.org. For information on the feasibility and design work of Environmental Works, go to www.eworks.org.