Art Barn Gets a Rainwater Catchment Slop Sink

The Art Barn in the last week gained running water to activate a slop sink for artists, thanks to a little rainwater harvesting project undertaken at Better Farm.

Utilizing a blueprint created last year by intern extraordinaire Lizzi Musoke, we constructed a gutter system to catch rainwater runoff on the Art Barn and divert it through a downspout and spigot into a laundry sink. Biodegradable products will flow out of the sink drain and disperse on the ground; and for toxic chemicals and paints, a catchment bucket can be placed below the drain to collect that waste for disposal.

Here's all you need to create your own rainwater catchment system, applicable for any non-potable water use (irrigation, outdoor shower, or outdoor sink):

  • Length of plastic gutter to fit along your roof edge
  • End cap for gutter
  • Downspout cut to length
  • Downspout connector to gutter
  • Braces for gutter
  • Exterior screws
  • Spigot with washers
  • Drill with with various bits: one to fit your screws, one with a drill head of the same diameter as your spigot
  • Rainwater catchment barrel (check with your local farms, they're always flush with barrels like this!)
  • A stand for your barrel (cinder blocks at least for a hose attachment, something taller if you want a sink—you are using gravity to pull the water from the bin to your spigot, which should be at the bottom of the rainwater barrel!)
  • Skill saw to cut a hole in your barrel for the downspout
  • Mosquito netting to surround the entrance point of the downspout-to-barrel to ensure no bugs lay eggs in the water
Carl Frizzell helps us out by cutting some gutters and downspouts
  • Measure your roof edge and cut your gutter length to fit (any saw will be able to cut through plastic gutter).
  • Take your gutter braces and screw them along the roof line, ensuring a gradual angle so the water runs downstream to where your catchment bin is waiting.
  • Put your gutter in the braces and attach the end cap at one end, downspout attachment piece at the other.
  • Measure from the gutter to where your catchment bin is and cut your downspout to be just a few inches longer. (NOTE: make sure your measurement for the downspout accounts for the fact your rainwater barrel is sitting up on something. This measurement should not be to the floor!)
  • Attach the downspout to the gutter system.
  • Cut a hole in your rainwater barrel's top to fit the downspout.
  • Use your drill to cut a hole in the barrel's side a few inches up from the bottom for your spigot. 
  • Put a washer on your spigot and screw it into the hole.
Any questions? E-mail us at

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.