July 9th-13th, 2022

ROCKET STOVES AND NATURAL BUILDING

Instructors: Sasha Rabin, Michael G. Smith, Colin Gillespie and Special Guests to be Announced. 

Thermal Mass Heating

Thermosiphon Hot Water 

Wall Infill Techniques

Reusing Bottles For Light and Decoration

Cost:  $750 Includes 5-7 days camping, 5 days of organic meals, and a pocket full of skills. Early bird discount $700 if registered before June 15th

Like two jam-packed workshops in one! Come build a rocket mass heater, a super-efficient wood-burning stove that stores heat in the thermal mass of an earthen bench. Learn about the many exciting RMH variations and possibilities: batch vs. downfeed! cooking! water heating! hypocaust floors! 

 

At the same time we will be exploring a range of high-insulation and thermal mass natural building systems including cob, straw bale, light straw-clay, and slipsquatch (redwood bark and clay.) We will also install the drainage layer and the first pour of an earthen floor.

 

Students will rotate daily between several hands-on projects so that they get to know each of these techniques. Daily lectures cover the theoretical knowledge you will need to design your own project: how a RMH works; dangers, do’s, and don’ts; thermal properties of natural building systems; and how to combine them all into an energy-efficient passive solar home.

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Learn skills, techniques, and design theory to create your own beautiful, durable, energy-efficient home from local and site-harvested materials. 

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The building you see above is the building we will be working on. The timber frame was built from lumber harvested on site to stack functions with watershed regeneration and fire prevention. All of the dimensional wood was milled and pond-cured on site. Walls were built during the workshop in 2021 from straw bales, straw-clay, slip-and-chip, ricecrete, and other lightweight insulating systems, with a sculptural cob wall for the Water Altar, as well as arches and other decorative design elements.

Three meals a day will be prepared on site, largely from local organic ingredients. Camping is also available on site. Access to the land is somewhat challenging due to our steep unpaved road. Participants will park nearby and be shuttled to the site. Guided morning yoga asana practice will be offered 2-3 times a week, with space available for your own practice the remaining mornings. 

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Located 20 minutes from Willits in the heart of Mendocino County, Abuela Gardens is a working demonstration site dedicated to helping the growth and healing of all beings through a continued dialogue with nature, water, food, and medicine. This approach is accomplished by incorporating community, music, healing arts, and silence within a multidimensional design strategy. Our action plan is to communally care for the Earth by growing as much of our own food and medicine as possible, regenerating the forest and aquifer we depend on, building with earth and regeneratively harvested materials as well as developing habitat for a diverse interface of wild and domestic creatures including bees and hummingbirds. This workshop will enhance the infrastructure of the center by constructing a focal point for meeting and eating as well as cold storage for seeds, fermentations, roots and other food.

 

Colin Gillespie has worked in the construction trades for over 10 years, with previous experience in integrative landscaping.He has dedicated himself to the study and mindful application of Natural Building, Permaculture Design, Eco-forestry, and Sociology.​​Son of an architect and a physicist, his attention to detail coupled with a passion for smart buildings and landscapes has inspired him to produce exemplary structures combining the benefits of modern and ancient building techniques. Elegant round-pole timber frame with straw bale infill constructions with robust contoured plasters are his specialty and have been featured in many of the projects he has led. In addition to his familiarity with standard stud construction, he is also known for his use of a variety of natural building techniques involving local resources such as wood, clay, and rock.  He champions keen observation, considerate visioning, and thorough planning, all tempered with good humor to allow long-term efficient function and beauty to emerge naturally. www.polecraftsolutions.com

Michael G. Smith co-founded the Cob Cottage Company, along with Ianto Evans and Linda Smiley, in Oregon in 1993. He helped organize the first Natural Building Colloquium in 1994. He wrote “The Cobber’s Companion” in 1996 and co-authored “The Hand-Sculpted House” (published by Chelsea Green, 2002) and “The Art of Natural Building (2nd edition, New Society, 2015).” He has experience with a wide range of effective low-cost, low-tech building techniques including cob, straw bale, and many lightweight natural infill systems. He has taught hundreds of hands-on natural building workshops, ranging from one-day earthen oven builds for children to 12-week professional trainings. He enjoys consulting with owner builders to help them design and build successful energy-efficient natural homes. He is also on the Board of Directors of the nonprofit Cob Research Institute, which wrote the first building cob for code in the world and successfully advocated for its adoption into the 2021 International Residential Code. With his partner and children, he stewards a 20-acre organic farm in Yolo County. Learn more at strawclaywood.com.

Sasha Rabin fell in love with natural building in 2002, when she began her building career with an apprenticeship at the Cob Cottage Company. Since then she has taught extensively through organizations that she co-founded, Seven Generations Natural Builders and Vertical Clay, and through collaborations with The Yestermorrow Design Build School, The Canelo Project, Cal-Earth, The Solar Living Institute, and Quail Springs Permaculture. Teaching natural building has brought her as far as the Permaculture Research Institute (PRI) Jordan and PRI Kenya and runs her own natural building organization, Earthen Shelter.  She also directs the Natural Building Advocacy program at Quail Springs.  She recently relocated to Northern CA where she was born and raised, and is excited to be teaching up here once again!   

Sasha was drawn to natural building due to her interest in the impact that shelter has on our lives and what it means to live in beautifully created homes, of natural non-toxic materials. Building a non-toxic home is a profound experience. When people create shelter together their lives are changed forever through connections with one another and the shelter itself. Just as people are inspired when learning how to grow food, people are inspired when creating the structures we depend on for comfort and health.  More at www,earthenshelter.com

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