News by Topic

Click on a topic below to see the latest headline

Customize "My Headlines" by Topic

Choose the topics of most interest to you to follow under "My Headlines".

Subscribe

Sign up for newsletters, news feeds, social media and other news sources.

Resources for News Media

Are you a reporter working on a story? Here's where you find help from Duke.

When Nature Calls at Duke Campus Farm

When Nature Calls at Duke Campus Farm

Volunteers build outhouse on Duke Campus Farm

Editor's Note: Scroll down to see a video tour of the outhouse.

Sarah Parsons, left, and Emily Sloss, right, hold a string of toilet paper in front of the Duke Campus Farm's new outhouse as Lee Miller, a farm volunteer, cuts the toilet paper during an unveiling ceremony. Photo by Bryan Roth.

Durham, NC - With all the modern amenities of an 18th century dwelling - including no running water, no electricity and a big hole in the ground - volunteers at the Duke Campus Farm unveiled a brand new outhouse last week as the latest addition to Duke's agricultural space.

The outhouse was necessary as the Duke Campus Farm meets standards for farm land set by Orange County and the state. Emily Sloss, manager of the farm, said that even meant adhering to some quirky rules.

"Orange County law says that the hole underneath the outhouse must be a square and a maximum of 2 feet deep," she said. "But we dug our hole to be 26 inches, so the inspector had us add two inches of dirt to make it 24 inches exactly."

The 4-by-5-feet outhouse - painted red with cream-colored trim - features a Dutch door that splits in two halves (top and bottom). There's ventilation on the bottom of the structure as well as two sliding windows to allow for a breeze to flow through the inside. A medicine cabinet holds extra toilet paper, bug spray and a first aid kit. The materials to build the outhouse cost a total of about $1,000 and were paid for through Duke's Green Grant Fund.

When they stop in, farm volunteers can also have their choice of reading material kept in a magazine rack or on shelving. Options include The Wild Food Trailguide, Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening, Orion magazine and more.

"It may serve a second purpose as a library," Sloss said with a laugh, saying shelves may be expanded to add more books.

As part of a celebration to highlight the opening of the outhouse, about a dozen Duke Campus Farm volunteers gathered for outhouse-themed snacks, including yellow lemonade, chocolate brownies and prunes. To christen the outhouse, volunteers cut a string of toilet paper instead of  ribbon.

"On home tours, you're used to seeing a lot of big beautiful homes, but this is a bit more modest," joked Lee Miller, a farm volunteer who built the structure. "We welcome everyone and hope they have many productive experiences with it."

Take a mini tour of the outhouse by watching the video below:

We encourage Duke faculty, staff and students to share ideas, collaborate and discuss issues on Duke Today. To post a comment, you must log-in with your Duke NetID and password. Any comments or materials that are inappropriate, disrespectful or violate Duke policies will be deleted. These may include statements or materials that:

  • promote commercial enterprises;
  • sell, or solicit offers to sell, goods or services for personal gain;
  • promote a political candidate or political party; or
  • violate policies regarding personal, proprietary or protected health information.

For more information, visit our guidelines for posting content.

Comments

You are not logged in. Please log in to leave a comment. Comments are restricted to faculty, staff, and students.

Comments

Hello Melanie,Just wanted to give you a quick response to your comment.  I work at the farm, and believe me... we reeeeally wanted to put in a composting toilet... but Orange County regulations wouldn't allow it (for our site and conditions).  Pretty big bummer.  But we did the best we could.  You should come out and see it sometime! :)

I was shocked, well, maybe not shocked, make that disappointed, that something a little more forward thinking wasn't installed - like a composting toilet, even an artificial sewage processing wet-land (boat not included) http://sciencefriday.com/segment/08/19/2011/an-outhouse-for-the-sea.html.Melanie

When Nature Calls ... at Duke Campus Farm

When Nature Calls ... at Duke Campus Farm


Duke Campus Farm recently unveiled a brand new outhouse as the latest addition to Duke's agricultural space. The outhouse was necessary as the Duke Campus Farm meets standards for farm land set by Orange County and the state.

© 2014 Office of Communication Services
705 Broad Street, Box 90496, Durham, NC 27708
(919) 681-4533; FAX: (919) 681-7926

Submit A Story Idea

We value your suggestions and feedback. Got an idea for a story, video or photo you would like to see in Duke Today?

Submit a Story Idea