Construction going well at Park Avenue's new community oven

The community oven in the Dartmouth park had substantial cracks and needed to be rebuilt, organizers say.

The old community oven had substantial cracks and needed to be rebuilt, organizers say

The new oven will be used by the community near Park Avenue in Dartmouth, N.S. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC)

Construction to rebuild a much-loved neighbourhood oven in Dartmouth finished its second stage Saturday.

The oven, first built in 2012, had substantial cracks and needed to be rebuilt, said Bernie Tremblay, volunteer director with Park Avenue Community Oven. 

The group received a $25,000 grant from TD Friends of the Environment Foundation for two projects, one of which was rebuilding the oven.

New oven will be cool to touch

Stonemason Volker Klum from Pictou County Stone taught volunteers techniques at Saturday's work party, including making cob, a natural building material typically made from straw, soil and water.

Bernie Tremblay is the volunteer director of the Park Avenue community oven. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC)

"We didn't want to just hire someone to come in and rebuild it," Tremblay said.

"We wanted to learn through that process so that in the future when we need to perform maintenance on the oven or look at changes, we've built that knowledge within our own community." 

The stonemason built a fire brick oven vault, which will be enclosed by the cob material. That material will make a thermal layer to keep the oven hot but the surface cool to touch, he said.

'It's ooey gooey good'

The oven's become a popular feature in the area, just down the hill from the Dartmouth Common. 

A natural building material called cob is being used to construct the new oven. It's typically made from straw, soil and water. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC)

From May to October of this last year, neighbours hosted 26 open oven days on Saturday afternoons and clocked in almost 40 public bookings for parties. 

"I've seen so many great things cooked in this oven," Tremblay said. 

Of course, the most popular is pizza, but the community volunteers have also tried Eisenhauer roasted prime rib steaks cooked directly on the coals. Tremblay's favourite is a calzone.

"You take all the fixings for a pizza. You fold it in half, and you put it inside the oven," Tremblay said. "Let it bake for five or 10 minutes and when you take it out, it's ooey gooey good."

The group hopes to have an opening celebration in next spring.