A new sawmill started operations this summer in an unlikely spot: a four-acre site on the border of Newark and East Orange, one of the most urbanized parts of New Jersey.
It's a fitting location, however, for CitiLog — a small custom sawmill operation that specializes in harvesting and "upcycling" the often neglected urban forest. Like the growing "farm to table" movement in food, CitiLog is developing a market among wood consumers who want to know where their lumber comes from and who care about the material's ecological footprint. CitiLog has the capability of making a wide variety of wood products, from structural timbers, decking, siding, and fencing to custom veneered panels or cabinetry. In many cases, the products are not only sourced from urban lumber that would otherwise go to waste, but are actually salvaged from the site of the proposed building.
CitiLog, founded by a bald, bearded visionary named Stubby Warmbold, has quite a few high-profile projects to its credit. One example: veneer panels for the Brooklyn Botanical Garden's visitor center, which celebrated its grand opening in May 2012, were sliced from ginkgo trees harvested on the building site. Citilog also provided ash flooring, oak floor treads, and cedar timbers for the Woods Hole Research Center's Gilman Ordway Campus, recognized by the American Institute of Architects in the top ten green projects for 2004. A lower profile, but equally striking project: the kitchen island below, made for a private residence out of lumber milled from an urban white oak tree.
In New Jersey, CitiLog plans a symbiotic relationship with the cities of Newark and East Orange, according to an Associated Press report seen in the Boston Globe on August 19 ("Sawmills move out of the forest, into the city," by Katie Zezima). Most of the sawlogs he processes are dropped off by nearby municipalites, businesses, or universities at no cost to either party, Stubby Warmbold told the AP; East Orange Mayor Robert Bowser said his city hopes to cut its $60,000 annual tree-removal expense by taking usable logs to CitiLog rather than paying for disposal.
Veneer sliced from ginkgo trees, used to make panels for a visitor center at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden in New York.