Reclaiming Wood, Reimagining Industry with the Urban Garden Workshop

Cael Kendall’s lifelong sustainability journey has landed under the soaring beams of a heavy-timber warehouse in Waynesboro, Virginia. But once, it began in the mists of the coastal Rocky Mountains, in the old growth forests of British Columbia. Born into an era of clearcutting booms, Cael spent his childhood watching majestic giants felled for phone books. In a place and time with hardly any environmental regulation, his interest in woodworking and reclaimed lumber took root.

Cael Kendall owner of Urban Garden Workshop with one of the company’s reclaimed redwood chicken coops, in Waynesboro, Va. Photo by Norm Shafer.

Finding Waynesboro

In the best tradition of uncharted paths, Cael’s journey remains one of joy and discovery. At 28 years old, Cael found himself the CEO of EcoTimber in Berkley, California, selling sustainably harvested and reclaimed wood. As a young father with free-range children and backyard chickens, a playful combination of enthusiasm and entrepreneurism led him to found Laughing Chicken, manufacturing DIY kits for building chicken coops out of reclaimed redwood fencing. As his interests and homesteading demands diversified, Urban Garden Workshop evolved into a design and manufacturing company that specializes in creating beautiful garden products from sustainably sourced materials, ranging from a notch-and-pin raised garden bed system to soon-to-be-released Virginia-grown bamboo trellis kits. Designed and constructed in his woodworking shop, Urban Garden Workshop ships nationally and internationally to rural, suburban, and urban farmers and food growers.

Cael Kendall owner of Urban Garden Workshop with one of the company’s reclaimed redwood chicken coops, in Waynesboro, Va. Photo by Norm Shafer.

From his new home in Crozet, Cael “just knew Waynesboro was the way to go” for his business. “It’s too perfect — an industrial town reinventing itself, and we are so excited to be a part of that.” With a Grow Waynesboro business planning class in his tool belt, a 17 minute Blue Ridge Mountain drive from his home, and a river-district brimming with buildings and woodworking tools as reclaimable as his raw wood materials, Cael knew: “This is totally the spot.”

 

Sustainability as a Family Affair

If backyard gardening inspired Cael’s entrepreneurism, his reclaimed woodworking skills are empowering his son’s front yard business. In a context entirely different from his father’s, Zebadiah is also being raised to notice the cycles of plants, trees, seasons, and carbon.

Samples of the Urban Garden Workshop’s products include garden beds and chicken coops sit behind the company’s facility in Waynesboro, Va. Photo by Norm Shafer.

With old maple flooring as raw material, this Mother’s Day found Zebediah selling wooden flower pots blooming with succulents hand-delivered by his grandmother from Amish farms in her hometown of Lancaster. Milled on industrial equipment in Waynesboro, fueled by local eggs from Urban Garden Workshop chicken coops, and marketed on www.NextDoor.com, Zebediah sold plants from his porch while making friends with his neighbors.

Perhaps he received the same advice his father offered up to local entrepreneurs in Waynesboro: “Start small. Start simple. And market the heck out of it.” Or perhaps he caught a family passion, one which undoubtedly believes that care, creativity, and love of place might all share a home in vocation.

To learn more about Cael Kendall and the Urban Garden Workshop, visit them online at www.urbangardenworkshop.com. To learn more about Cael’s fellow entrepreneurs who are transforming and reimagining Waynesboro’s local economy, read their profiles at www.growwaynesboro.com/meet-them

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