Kieran Chapman

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since Jan 16, 2015
detroit, mi
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Recent posts by Kieran Chapman

We are selling a fully operational urban farm in Detroit, MI that we have been building and managing for 4 years. We are looking for new owners to take over our work. An ideal buyer would have some amount of market gardening/agricultural experience, and be fully ready to continue operations in spring 2019.


We are selling all land, equipment, infrastructure, and a small house which could be either a home or office. We are open to training the new owners, helping with projects, and doing whatever it takes to ensure your comfort and success in the farm and house. We have not officially listed this property with any real estate company, though I have included the craigslist posting at the bottom. If you are interested we can be contacted at

Farm Data:
- 2.1 acres (21 combined city lots) Lots are owned and licensed with the city of Detroit for urban gardening.
- Incorporated as LLC in 2015
- Established relationships with restaurants and wholesale customers
- Access to farmer's markets in Detroit Metro area with established relationships

Market Garden:
- 52 permanent beds: each 100 sq ft
- Permanent trellising system for vining crops
- Irrigation system installed
- Able to be organically certified, soil tests on file and no synthetic chemicals or fertilizers ever used
- 2 high tunnels/greenhouses (Smaller tunnel: 700sq ft., Larger tunnel: 2160 sq ft.)

Agroforestry/permaculture production system:
- 36 additional market garden beds: each 150 sq ft.
- 20 pears, 20 peaches, and 10 apricots planted in rows for commercial production
- 50+ Elderberries for commercial production or propagation
- 50+ Aronia Berries for commercial production or propagation
- Rhubarb patch: 5 50' beds
- Strawberry patch: 4 50' beds
- Gooseberries: 50+ plants in hedgerow
- Nursery beds for production of tree stock for planting or sale

- Apples, Peaches, Pears, Paw paws planted for home use or sale
- Golden/Red Raspberries, Wineberries, Blackberries, Black Currant, Mulberries for home use, sale, or propagation
- Entire farm surrounded by biodiverse hedgerows with useful species including: dogwood, black locust, sugar maple, willows, chokecherries, chokeberries, serviceberries, redbuds, American cranberries, wild elderberries, and more

Tools and Equipment:
- Ford Ranger manual transmission pickup truck (on-farm truck only!)
- Jang Jp-1 Precision seeder
- Soil blocker units for transplant production as well as standardized propagation trays
- Greens Harvester for salad production
- Stand-up transplanter
- All harvesting and packaging equipment: knives, delivery bins, harvest baskets, salad spinner, etc.
- Row/bed covers (fabric and plastic) for organic pest control
- Shovels, hoes, rakes, trowels, wheelbarrows, broadfork and dozens of other hand tools

- Processing Shed: 200 sq ft.
- Enclosed Root cellar/Walk-in cooler: 40 sq ft.
- Fruit/Vegetable wash/pack area with metal tables, sprayers, wash tub, etc.
- Attached to house by covered walkway
- 20' Shipping container: 160 sq ft.
- Metal Roofed garage attached to Container: 320 sq ft.
- Small pole barn/shed: 150 sq ft.
- Tool rack/irrigation station/covered storage in garden
- Small Plastic tunnel for garage: 100 sq ft.

Community Network:
- Shared Neighborhood Tool Bank with access to riding mower, weed whips, and 40hp tractor
- Community Kitchen available for processing and packaging farm goods or value-added products
- Café space for consignment sale
- Community Greenhouse for transplant production and plant propagation

- 845 sq ft., 2 bedroom, 1 bath with additional 200 sq ft. porch
- Recently redone electrical and plumbing, newer appliances
- easily heated by built in wood stove
- double insulated walls and recently insulated attic
- All-natural earthen plasters and building elements

The house is sold as-is. We live here 365 days a year and it is comfortable and cozy and easily lived in, but it will not pass any inspection and will need additional work to be considered "finished." Way more information could be provided on request as we have essentially rebuilt this house from the inside out.

We are asking for $125,000 for everything listed and more, the rights to the business, the land, and the house. The farm business could easily pay for itself in 5 years. We are willing to train and coach the new farm owners in every aspect of the farm operation to ensure a smooth transition and long-term success.

We are open to land contracts, negotiation, and alternative financial agreements.
A couple Home Depot's stock it in a small section next to their fiberglass insulation.
5 years ago
Thanks terry, good tips. One aspect I didn't understand about the structure you designed though was doubling the rim joist. Since I would be cutting the floor joists back to the foundation wall, the stubs left behind on top of the foundation wall would be in the way of installing another rim joist. When I say rim joist I mean the "band joist" on top of the sill plate. I want to make sure the wall that rests on top of this is more than adequately supported, but I also don't want to fill the entire cavity on top of the foundation wall with wood or else I can't insulate. The slab I would be installing would be supported by a pony wall only on one side, so the other three sides are at the foundation. Does that make sense?

5 years ago
There are no walls running over the top of the area I'm describing. It is one side of the house ringed by three exterior walls, and one interior wall which rests on top of the I-beam. I am proposing removing the floor joists in this room and filling in the space with a slab of sorts. I agree with you that skylights may not be the best option and that convective air loops will not be sufficient to heat the mass, it's just an idea that I am currently exploring the feasibility of before figuring out the rest of the pros/cons.

Assuming that I could remove the floor joists in this given area, and "retro pour a floating slab" as Bryant RedHawk described it, I would have to decide where my floor would come up to. It seems easiest to have it come to the top of the stem wall, so it would be 10" lower than it currently is (the width of the joists), that way it would not be in direct contact with any wood. I'm wondering what the best way to treat the joist pockets would be. They would still have the floor joists stubs in them. Could I just install insulation and add blocking in between the joist stubs and then extend my wall (lath and plaster) down to meet the new floor?

Chadwick there are a couple of things I don't understand. 1. In a typical slab foundation, there are no floor joists. The walls do not bow out over time at the bottom, they are set on a sill plate which holds everything straight. WHy don't these bow out over time? Now granted, my house was not designed as a slab, so there are floor joists, but there's still a sill plate/rim joist I don't quite understand how this differs from the walls of a slab foundation house. 2. The floor joists in most houses all run the same way, which means that two walls (often the gable ends but in my case just two sides of my hip roof) are not held in place by floor joists, again they simply rest on a sill plate and are presumably also held in place by the walls set perpendicular to them. Why then is this the case that these walls do not suffer the issues you described? (I'm not talking about ceiling joists or any kind of tie beams either, just floor joists)
5 years ago
Hi there, just thought I'd post some pictures and mention an ongoing project in my kitchen. I'm doubling up the insulation in the walls and sealing with a clay plaster over wood lath. All of the walls in my house had little to no insulation, and what was there was mostly bunched up fiberglass that had slumped, fallen, and disintegrated over the years. I'm far from a professional, so take nothing as gospel, but this is just one way I've found of reliably insulating and sealing a wall without buying too much in the way of box store products.

To rectify this issue and make my home more comfortable I have been tearing down the drywall (potentially you could leave it up if there was already decent insulation and you weren't worried about problems inside the wall), removing what insulation is there, and reinstalling mineral wool insulation. I love the stuff. Easy to cut, easy to install, almost no cons except the embodied energy. That's relatively low though since it's a byproduct of the slag from foundries, etc. It's not quite as nice as dense pack cellulose, but there's nowhere near me to rent a high-pressure blowing machine, so I don't mind this stuff. To eliminate thermal bridging and add extra insulation I have been building 2x4 and 2x3 interior stud walls, set about a 1/4-1/2" in from the original walls (running new wiring is a breeze since you can bring them down between the two walls, and just secure the cables to the front of the original studs).

I do lose about 5 inches whenever I do this, but it's usually not too noticeable. I've also done light straw clay for insulation, but the depth you need to really get significant insulation is too extensive to be expanding inwards into your house. On another wall in the house I'm planning on building outwards rather than inwards, and for that I will be able to use straw-clay since I can extend more significantly. This is off-topic, but does anyone have any ideas on a foundation for an exterior insulation wrap? I could use some kind of truss, but it will be holding fairly significant weight so I was thinking some kind of rubble trench and stacked stone foundation up agains the original house foundation... that's neither here nor there.

Once I get all of that up I come across the front with lath. The lath is just long strips I get from a local mill when they're ripping/planing excess off a long boards. Most of it is rough on one side, and it varies from 1/8" to 1/2" thick. This I install with some finishing nails across the front of the insulation.

Once finished, I go over the whole thing with a spray bottle, and then trowel on some clay-sand plaster. (N.B. no vapor barrier, and the clay seals to form your interior air barrier) The plaster a mixture made with subsoil/fill-dirt from around my area, plus some roughly chopped straw. (I'd like to incorporate manure but all i have access to is chicken and goat shit, neither of which has many microfibers from what I understand.) It's about what you'd see in a cob mix 3:1 or 2:1 clay soil to sand depending on the soil's clay content. It goes on nice and wet so that it squeezes into the spaces between the lath and forms a good key. After a night or so I score it with a sharp piece of lath in a cross hatch pattern like you see on the south wall in the pictures. Those grooves help the next coat adhere better.

The drywall patches on the ceiling are from a soffit I removed. They're insulated but not taped and sealed yet. I just use gypsum plaster for that. The round post and beams were a practice thing I was doing with hewing my own wood. Only the non-exposed sides are flat. One i did with an axe on three sides, but the other I just did with a friend's chainsaw mill since I don't have most of the tools required so I was just using a singular sharp axe and it takes a good bit unless you have a good broadaxe and other accoutrements. They come from a little black walnut that was growing into a power line and they form the main support beam for a potential loft I may put in the attic someday.

The windows I salvaged from two houses that were coming down. Cutting them out meant I lost the nailing fin though, so their flashing on the outside isn't perfect but it should stop most bulk water infiltration, just staples, building paper, and metal flashing. I haven't installed the extension jams yet, since we haven't decided on counters or anything like that, but I was considering doing tile. They're actually installed in plywood boxes that tie the exterior and interior walls together since it's easier to seal between the two walls that way. The windows themselves I still had to spray foam around though as you can see. Any permies have a good way to install windows that doesn't rely on spray foam around the shims? I'd like to seal them some other way, but that's all I know.

That's about it. I'm installing shelves soon so I can move all my dishes back out of the guest bedroom. I was going to do them floating and dowel them into the studs or something, but I've got too much other stuff to do so I'm just installing them with brackets, whatever.

When I put up the finish plaster and build the counters I'll update with some less shitty pictures.
5 years ago
Terry, one thing I didn't quite follow was your sketch where it said "double rim joist" but then also "x4" Did you mean the rim joist would be doubled on all 4 sides of the house? That doesn't seem right.
5 years ago
Hi all,

To anyone worried: no, I am not proposing cutting any portion of the I-beam. The I-beam runs down the center of the house, with floor joists running perpendicular to it.

I originally got the idea from this comment by Joe Woodall: Basically I want to remove a portion of the floor and the underlying joists, build some kind of containment wall in the crawlspace, up to the same height as the foundation wall, and then fill in that area with rubble.

The background for this is that I do not enjoy having a crawlspace for the most part, it's damp and dank and I've replaced multiple areas of the subfloor and even several joists due to the fiberglass batts that were installed for many years facilitating rot in between the joists. It was also very cold until recently when I insulated the rim joist. I am aware that I could "encapsulate" the crawlspace. Recently, I was thinking of building a mass heater of some kind, and rather than bulk up the wood framing I thought it might be a good idea to simply box a big hole in the floor, and form a "floating slab" as Bryant RedHawk called it just in the area where the masonry heater is. I was curious though, if instead of forming a slab just for the footprint of the heater, if I could build a raised earth floor for this entire room/section of the house.

The reasons for doing this would be that I could then create a large thermal bank in the floor. It is the northern half of the house and I am planning skylights on the southern roof slope which would shine down onto the slab. I would also like to experiment with running the mass heater's flue through the floor and letting the floor act as the mass. I have also considered simply installing a boiler that would run heated water through a hydronic floor system.

Chadwick, I had not considered the perspective that examines the continual small shifts over the lifetime of a building. You bring up an interesting point. I considered the floor joists to only be acting as support for the floor, but I can see how they could assist in holding the bottom of the building together. In my mind, because there are several walls perpendicular (two of which form the front and back ends of the house) to the exterior wall in my case, I would assume that these would be sufficient to hold the other wall in place. If not, another possibility would be to leave in 2 or 3 floor joists and double them and then pour the sand and gravel in around them, they could be wrapped or otherwise protected from direct soil contact. I'm not a big fan of that idea though.

Terry, it sounds like you're saying this plan is feasible and that you would recommend doubling the floor joists along the foundation wall so that the exterior stud wall has a sufficient footing.

The joists span are 2x10s that span from the top of the concrete stem wall to the I-beam in the middle of the house, about 12', so my thought was that I would cut back the floor joists back to the edge of the I-beam and the edge of the stem wall. Then I would double up the remaining joist stubs as per your recommendation Terry. Then I would build a containment wall for the earthen floor (in this case, I would build the wall directly underneath the I-beam, but it would not be supporting the beam. Then I would lay a vapor barrier down against the 3 foundation walls and the stone containment wall, and backfill behind this with stone, sand, etc. up to the top of the stem wall. At this point, the floor would be about 10" lower than the original floor because I would be at the bottom of where the floor joists used to be. The joist pockets would be exposed, but I would finish and insulate them as if they were just a part of the wall matrix. They will also be receiving a heavy dose of insulation from the outside as I am planning on super-insulating this north wall to the exterior when I extend the roof overhang to form a shed/porch. Does that all make sense?

Matu, I will certainly update if I ever decide to do this. (would be next year at the earliest) My house is a huge experiment for me right now: understanding natural building techniques and practices in the context of a conventionally constructed home. It is a place that has been brought back from the brink of ruin in an area of Detroit filled with sunken and abandoned houses, but also resilient and reliant people and buildings. Always much to explore and learn.
5 years ago
The foundation walls would be held in place by earthen loads on both sides. I believe the only wall that might start "kicking out" would be the stacked stone wall holding back the earth from the rest of the crawlspace. But I would build it at least a foot or so thick, and it would be less than 2 feet tall so the force exerted on it would not be significant.

There is currently no lateral thrust acting on the bottoms of the walls, and unless I built the earthen floor up above the stem wall there would continue to be none. the floor joists do not tie anything together, I'm not sure they're even nailed to the rim joist. There is still a concrete stem wall that rises above the below grade foundation. One of my specific questions is regarding the joists pockets, whether it's better to fill them in with some kind of stone, or just leave the floor joists ends in there and then extend the interior air barrier down to the top of the stem wall. I would likely install a vapor barrier and I would definitely install some form of insulation under the new slab floor.

There would also be no dirt in contact with wood in this application.

What I am describing is essentially taking this: and converting it into this:
5 years ago
Title sounds a little wacky. My house is divided by a large steel I-beam, and the crawlspace below (dirt floor) has one side about 4' deep while the other side is barely even a foot from the bottom of the joists. I've played with the idea of building some kind of mass heater for a while, and considered what it might take to actually support the stove above the crawlspace. This year I actually built a short, fat cob wall around my wood stove directly above the I-beam, but for a larger object, it would need to be continuously supported. I considered opening a hole in the floor, and building four walls down into the crawlspace and then infilling with rubble, and placing the stove on top, but then I thought, "why not just fill the whole thing?" Well, not the whole thing, but the half of the crawlspace that's already relatively shallow. There's no plumbing or electrical work there. I was just curious if anyone's ever done anything like this in an effort to gain more thermal mass and potentially install in-floor heating. I've also considered installing some kind of Japanese style hearth or Korean Ondol sytem.

My plan was basically to build a a nice thick stacked stone wall (broken concrete) directly under the I-beam, then tear up the wood floor in my living room, cut the joists away, host a wheel barrow party to fill in the empty space, and build up the layers as if you were doing a normal earth foundation and/or earth floor. The main issue I see is the pockets at the sill where the floor joists are currently resting. The stud walls are resting on the floor joists and rim joist, so removing the floor joists would require, at the least, fitting in another rim joist to replace them. I'd also be nervous about the earth floor resting directly against the rim joist, number one due to potential moisture, though that issue could be mitigated with some kind of membrane/vapor barrier, but number two do to the potential lateral thrust of the earth. Theoretically it would only be about 10" of earth/gravel/etc, since that's the height of the rim joist, and it wouldn't be shifting over time, but the house isn't old enough to have used a massive sill plate, but it's not young enough to have significant mechanical connections between the rim joist and foundation.

Thoughts? Or just a lot of work for not much return?

The only alternative I really see is I go buy a bunch of foam board and properly insulate the crawlspace (I've already sealed it as well as possible), and then try to pipe some warm air down in there from the wood stove so I can stop walking on cold floors all winter...
5 years ago