The Cowell Ranch Hay Barn Project

In 2015, as UC Santa Cruz celebrated its 50th anniversary, the campus also celebrated the restoration of the 150-year-old Cowell Ranch Hay Barn near the entrance of campus. The barn has been one of the key buildings in the Cowell Lime Works Historic District, and now serves as the headquarters for the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS), providing an attractive and accessible new “front door” to the adjacent 30-acre CASFS Farm.

The Hay Barn also serves both the campus and community as a gathering place for classes, workshops, and other programming, as well as offices and a reception site for CASFS. The facility is available to both the campus and the general public for conferences, seminars, weddings, parties, and other gatherings. See this link for rental information.

For  information on visiting the Hay Barn, please contact events manager Heidi Harris, 831-459-3762,

Reconstruction Effort
The first phase of this project included the careful dismantling of the remaining barn structure. Reconstruction began in Fall 2014: after excavation, soil stabilization, and pouring a concrete foundation and floor, the original frame was recreated, beginning with 10” x 10” redwood sill plates, and a combination of new and salvaged Douglas fir framing members. 

On March 21, 2015, a group of 20 professional timberframers joined by 50 community volunteers worked together to raise the frame of the new barn, using barn raising audiencemortise and tenon joinery to assemble the massive Douglas fir and redwood timbers. The Hay Barn raising marked an important and celebratory step in the process of recreating and repurposing one of the Cowell Ranch's historic buildings. 

On September 12, 2015, CASFS hosted a Hay Barn Celebration and "sneak preview" event to celebrate completion of Phase I of the reconstruction process, and held the annual Farm to Fork fundraising dinner in the Hay Barn. Work on Phase II office and meeting space was completed in early spring of 2016.

See a time lapse video of the Hay Barn's reconstruction
Read more about the Hay Barn restoration project

Renovation of the Hay Barn was kick-started by a generous gift from the Helen and Will Webster hay barn reconstructionFoundation. The Gaia Fund and the S.H. Cowell Foundation have also supported the renovation work. The Joseph and Vera Long Foundation has generously supported the development of interpretive displays for the Hay Barn. In addition, the campus has committed funds to the project. 

If you'd like information on donation opportunities, please contact—

Ann Lindsey
Grants & Projects Coordinator
Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems

See Also