As Highland Craftsmen embraces the idea of a future where Earth Day is every-day, students for the Sustainable Development Program at ASU come to share their ideas as stakeholders in the company. Brooke Kornegay, The Farm Manager at Appalachian State University’s Goodnight Family Sustainable Development Program Living Learning, brought two groups form the ASU campus in Boone to tour the Spruce Pine based facility. Students were introduced to the philosophy and practical application of sustainability expressed in true Bark House fashion. The group toured and were invited to share their observations and questions.
The Q & A Between Highland Craftsmen and ASU Students (Student Comments & Questions in BOLD, HC answers in Italics)
I am extremely impressed with your business. It’s awesome that you can be so sustainable and also appeal to a variety of people and markets. Keep up the good work. I was very impressed by the future plans of using sustainable appropriate technology on the campus. Why did you choose poplar bark?
We proved longevity of the material through observation of existing poplar structures (80+ years). It gives us the long straight uniform cylinders of bark that is easily peeled and processed.
What other types are common besides the chestnut that you mentioned?
Poplar and Hemlock.
What’s the most popular selected bark?
For exterior applications the poplar is the only bark of choice. For interior, white birch.
What kind of capital investment did it take to get such an operation running?
We started small and grew over time. Initial investment was “25 hours” a day.
How many employees?
Depending on the harvest season, 15 to 60.
Great job really thinking about the big picture of your business from the beginning to the end. Thanks for demonstrating that fun ideas can become a successful business. You’ve got a good sustainable operation going that benefits the community and helps local foresters. Keep it up and best wishes! This building is awesome. How long did it take to build?
All the buildings that are a part of the campus are reclaimed structures originally built in the 40’s. The remodels are ongoing as we constantly experiment with new applications.
I like how you said that the members of the community are stakeholders in the business. Are you a part of any other community oriented activities / sustainability organizations, non-profits?
We are B-Corp Certified and Audited which reflects our intention and realization of community engagement. We serve on the Main Street Board in Spruce Pine. There are many means through which we contribute, but the most direct activity we engage in is providing firewood to needy families.
Do you work with landowners who may want to use bark from their own trees on their house?
Our processing is intense and sophisticated. Landowners can sell raw material to us and then buy finished materials from us.
Every aspect of the business is well thought out and refined to be as sustainable as possible. I love that you don’t cut down or accept living trees indiscriminately. Way to go working to get off the grid!
• Waste + hands on value= saleable product
It must be very satisfying to use so much of an artistic element. This celebrates true individuality.