Green Building & Empowerment

Green Building & Empowerment Course; Straw Bale Building For Self Builders

Do you find yourself hankering after learning some new skills? Or perhaps you’re up for a challenge, maybe a complete change of lifestyle or a new adventure? Learning to build with straw bales has fulfilled all of the above for us and so much more, including a new respect for each other and our relationship and a very defined sense of empowerment, as well as a house which we know is working in harmony with its environment, not to mention all the incredible memories and experiences built up as fabulous friends and family have helped us with the project.

As complete building amateurs* we have achieved things we never thought possible and discovered that we would love to pass on this learning to others and so, along with the help of our professional teaching backgrounds, we plan to run our first three-day Green Building & Empowerment course. The programme is divided into sections; theoretical learning and practical skills alongside space for discussion about how to organise living a more sustainable life. The course will cover:

Theoretical Learning

  • Principles of straw bale building
  • Foundation techniques
  • House systems including:
    • Solar electricity & storage
    • Water harvesting
    • Waste management

Practical Skills

  • Building of a complete straw bale structure
  • Gravel tyre foundations
  • Essential carpentry for building with bales
  • Dressing the bales/ bale raising
  • Making hazel stakes
  • Window and door framing


Hatha Yoga

Optional Hatha yoga session with Felicity each morning to stretch ready for the day of building, along with guided meditation and deep breathing practice.

Felicity & Daniel

Brain Picking

Access to us! Plenty of time to interact with us and pick our brains on everything and anything related to our lifestyle.

This is quite an ambitious amount of things to cover in a relatively short space of time, which is why we will keep things small. Creating a small, mini structure will allow everyone to try and practice tangible skills as well as see the ideas in principle, just on a smaller scale. Think Hobbit height.

For example, with the bales themselves, it takes just a little bit of time using the material to be able to know how it feels and to know when it feels right or not. With our build we found those first few moments the most nerve-wracking because we just didn’t know if we were on the right path or not. We hope our course can take the element of the unknown away from each core building stage and ensure a greater sense of confidence, knowledge and practicality when building your own straw bale structure. In addition, we hope to foster a feeling of community both during and post-course, expanding the ever-growing network of eco-builders and Permaculturalists around the world.

Alongside the practical learning, we hope to share our understanding of the ethos of a sustainable life within the constraints of our modern world. Time is planned into the course to talk through our land’s own Permaculture design and how we make an income as well as to discuss the possibilities for your own situation in a constructive way.

Who is the Green Building & Empowerment course for?

Primarily, this course is open to anyone interested in eco-building. Particularly those who don’t possess building experience already but who have a dream to build their own low-impact home one day. Suitable for complete novices, the course will start from the beginning; this is as much about building confidence and attitude as it is about knowledge.

Vegetarian Food

A sense of community will be cultivated through optional daily Yoga classes as well as through meals eaten together. All food will be vegetarian/vegan with a focus on nutritious, healthy cuisine to fuel you through the practical building. Meals will be eaten together outside under the old Oak tree or inside the straw bale house.


The course venue is our land in France, where camping spots are provided or you can find your own local accommodation, should you prefer.

The closest train station is Limoges, which is on the direct line from Paris. There is also an airport.

Dates: 22nd, 23rd & 24th August 2020

Prices: £300/€350 per person including all teaching, food and accommodation. 

If you feel this course would be something you are interested in, then please fill in the contact form below to let us know. We will contact you with more details. The course is limited to 8 people, over 18’s only.

*We are not professional builders – we have zero building qualifications. Having said that, we have self-built our own straw bale house and learnt a whole lot along the way. It is this learning, and the empowerment that has come along with it, which we wish to share.

Please subscribe to our mailing list if you wish to hear about future courses being held at Les Vignes Basses. We do not share your information with anyone else and we never will.

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