Local Woods Build Local Homes



Project demonstrates diverse and abundant resources



Minneapolis, Minn. Sept. 18, 2006 – Flooring, siding, cabinets, and even the bathroom vanities in the Aitkin FSC Home are all coming from local companies using local woods. "If we could make the kitchen sink out of wood – we'd probably do that too!," says Jeff Howe, President of Dovetail Partners.



"This project really illustrates how many products are available from local companies and how many of those are made with local resources," says Alison Lindburg, Director of Dovetail Partner's Eco-Affordable Housing Program.



Wood used in the house being built in the City of Aitkin is coming from trees grown, managed and harvested in Aitkin County and nearby forests. The county-managed and state-managed lands in Aitkin County are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) as well managed. Some private forestlands in the county are also FSC-certified.



"The forests of Aitkin County are like a do-it-yourselfer's dream," according to Ross Wagner, head of Aitkin County Economic Development. "If it can be made from wood, it can probably be made from wood from our forests."



The cabinets for the home are being made by Custom Creations in Tamarack, Minnesota. The owner of Custom Creations, Neil Stecker has been making cabinets from the local forests for many years. "I like working with the wood from this part of the world," says Stecker. "From pine to birch and everything in between, it is good wood to work with and makes a nice finished product."



Neil's company is also a member of the Upper Mississippi Certified Forest Products Group. This group of small businesses has committed to using local FSC-certified wood in their products. The Aitkin County Economic Development office provides support for the group. The group has also been supported with funding from the McKnight Foundation and the Blandin Foundation. There are currently 14 local businesses in the group.



"Members of the group are able to produce and sell FSC-certified products and share the costs of the certification audits," say Wagner. "It makes it easier for small businesses to participate in certification and creates new markets for our local products."



The house will be completed and ready for open houses this fall. The McKnight Foundation, Weyerhaeuser Family Foundation, and Surdna Foundation are providing support for this project. Project financing is through Bremer Bank.