On the horizon – a new multi-purpose building at BFREE

Imagine sitting comfortably in a hammock overlooking the BFREE garden while enjoying a freshly brewed cup of heirloom hot chocolate. The cacao was grown onsite in the cacao agroforestry farms. You are on the second story screened-in porch of a new building at BFREE – the Commons.

Situated in the exact location as the old kitchen and dining room, the Commons is one of the many changes coming to BFREE. All have been inspired by the need for better services and spaces for the many types of visitors that come whether scientist, student, intern, professor, or adventure tourists, as well as the many staff who call the field station “home” most of the year.

Below find some pictures of the old kitchen as it was deconstructed in June 2023. The building has hosted countless staff and visitors since it was first built in 1997.

Saying Goodbye to the Old Kitchen and Dining Room

Construction on the Commons began in June of 2023, and the hope is that it will be completed by July 2024. The building will include: a large dining area with capacity for over 40 people, a staff dining room, a large kitchen, the main office, an internet room for visitors, a walk-in pantry, two screened porches, a lounge area, a gift shop, and a chocolate café. The two-story building will be nearly 7000 square feet including a third story small observation deck. The birding and wildlife viewing from the deck should be spectacular! So will the food – thanks to the new and improved kitchen equipment along and food storage facilities as well as improvements to our garden and orchards for even fresher ingredients from farm to table.

Many of the materials for the Commons have been harvested from the property, which will give this multipurpose building authenticity and a BFREE jungle feel that visitors have come to expect, while providing improved comforts and conveniences.

Why are we making these changes now?

Living and working in the rainforest at BFREE is both physically demanding and mentally challenging. We recognize the need to improve the experience that the many types of users have while visiting the field station, as well as for the many hard-working dedicated staff that call BFREE their home away from home.

Additional funds for the Commons are still needed – primarily for the expansion of our existing solar system to power this building and other facilities at the field station.