Outdoor Clay Oven- A Service Learning Project

Cody demonstates cement pointing to Coleman

Cody demonstates cement pointing to Coleman

Spurred on by community members donating books and ideas on the subject and our desire to increase our cooking ability, the students began to design and build a traditional clay oven in October. With classroom pizza projects in full swing the desire to have a pizza oven for community and classroom use came to the forefront. The students were intrigued by the idea of cooking pizzas in record time and cooking breads and other items as the oven cools.

The following is a sequence of events with pictures which lead to the completion of the oven:

1. The project began in late October with the area being prepared by digging down past the organic layer and filling it with gravel.

The Base is Complete

The Base is Complete

2. A 4 foot by 4 foot piece of bluebird was placed on top of the leveled gravel.

3. A perimeter of cinder blocks was dry laid four high and filled with gravel. This base was filled with rocks, old cement , gravel, and sand.

4. The entire top was packed and leveled with granite dust.

5. Four two by two foot pavers were placed on top of the granite dust.

6. Cody and Chapin then built a brick archway which will be the opening for the oven.

Jayson helps Chapin Finish the Arch

Jayson helps Chapin Finish the Arch

7. Fire brick was dry set on the stone dust very tightly so no gaps appeared.

8. A form for the oven was packed out of wet sand and covered with wet newspaper.

9. Using clay donated by Ms. Hartkopf the students mixed up a concoction of 20% sand and 80% clay in wheelbarrows.

Noah Smooths the Mud

Noah Smooths the Mud

10. This mix was used to form wet bricks four inches thick to be placed over the top of the form.

11. After this had partially dried another layer of clay mixed with sawdust was mixed in 5 gallon buckets. This would form the insulation layer.

12. Four inch bricks of the insulation material was laid over the first layer

Second Insulative Layer

Second Insulative Layer

13. The last layer was the same as the first but only two inches thick. This clay was also used to shape the chimney hole which we had been keeping open with PVC pipe and could now remove.

14. The sand was partially removed and a heater was used to began to dry the oven.

Now We Wait

Now We Wait

15. When it was safe we removed the sand and kindled a fire to dry and harden the oven. During this time a few pizzas were cooked as a test. They turned out great!

16. The final layer was an outdoor durabond substance similar to stucco.

Hand crafted Oak Door by Chapin and Family

Hand crafted Oak Door by Chapin and Family

17. Darcy and Walter Lamont fashioned a great oak door for the oven and we were ready to fire up

18. The first real firing was a success and pizzas were cooked anywhere from 3 minutes to 6 minutes. Some had pretty black bottoms! Experimentation is needed to obtain the proper heat. for cooking various items. The thermometer donated by Henry Buochard indicated a 600 degree oven immediately after firing.

Another Satisfied Customer

Another Satisfied Customer

Prepping the Pizza Toppings

Prepping the Pizza Toppings

Preparing the Dough

Preparing the Dough

5 Minute Pizza Cooked by the Garden Girls

5 Minute Pizza Cooked by the Garden Girls

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“Junkin’ It Out”

Dragging Out the Tips and Tree

Dragging Out the Tips and Tree

Hard to believe but some of the students can’t wait to get outside to work around the garden after they have finished their classwork . This past week students were inspired by the fresh snow and the approaching holidays to get out in the woods to do some tipping for wreath making,cut some fallen wood with our bow saws to heat up the pizza oven, haul out the Christmas Tree and cook some of our potatoes over the propane cooker in our lodge pot.

GreenThumb meets with Student Council After School

GreenThumb meets with Student Council After School

Of course when you are working in a different environment you need an alternative set of usable words, new vocabulary words for the job at hand. And you’ll find no shortage of those words when you’re out in the trees with a few of our Maine boys.

Starting the Wreath

Starting the Wreath

Today after Grant, Caleb, Tommy and Curtis were felling a cherry tree by notching the base Grant yelled out to his teachers that they were “Junkin it out”.
When asked for a more thorough explanation the boys responded with impatience in their voice,”were pulling the dead…you know the junk wood out so we can buck it up for firewood to burn in the oven”.

Darcie helps Alec start his wreath

Darcie helps Alec start his wreath

Well, who can argue with that. “Off the hinges”, Mr. T. replied. Tommy shot back, “Oh Mr. T. , that is so old school. Hey watch out, that tree looks wambly. ”

Now that’s Groovy!

Hauling out the Dead Wood is Serious Business

Hauling out the Dead Wood is Serious Business