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Elkhart co-op makes plans for an outdoor community kitchen

A group in Elkhart wants to bring their neighborhood closer together over home cooked meals but there may be a problem with their plan.

The group is the Prairie Wolf Collective co-op. Members live in two homes off Prairie Street.
 
The co-op recycles rain water, picks fresh vegetables, and cooks from a solar powered oven. 

Nicole Bauman an original member of the Prairie Wolf Collective says the group has neighbors talking.     
 
“People are very curious. I think a lot of our neighbors are sometimes wondering what we are doing,” says Bauman. 
 
The co-op started in 2009 and not only provides affordable community housing but is an experiment in sustainability.
 
“We are growing a lot of our own food planting lots of fruit trees starting this community green house and the community kitchen,” says Bauman. 
 
A frame of Black Locust tree logs is the first step to an outdoor kitchen. But there is a hurdle to jump in order to move forward with their environmentally friendly plan.  
 
“We’re hoping to be able to use sheet metal roofing on this structure,” says Bauman.
 
A city ordinance says the kitchen has to have the same materials as the primary home.
 
“We want to use a material that is a little more sustainable – it lasts much longer than shingles and is less toxic than shingles,” says Bauman. 
 
The co-op is requesting a variance to use different building materials.
 
Bauman says this is a project for her neighborhood and she wants to show the city that she has community support.
 
To provide any letters of support for Prairie Wolf Collective to present to the city visit their Facebook page by searching ‘Red Oak Community House.’

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