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 we know isn’t harming the Earth but is in fact working in harmony with it, 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 five-day Green Building, Yoga & Empowerment course. The programme will be divided into sections; theoretical learning, practical skills and yoga sessions. We propose that the retreat will aim to cover:
- Principles of straw bale building
- Various types of foundation techniques
- House systems including solar electricity and storage, water harvesting and waste management
- Ideas for making an income
- Managing a building timeline – lessons learned
- Building of a complete (miniature) straw bale structure
- Gravel tyre foundations
- Building the box beam
- Dressing the bales
- Making hazel stakes
- Bale raising
- Door and window framing
- Creating a roof beam
- Attaching trusses
- Placing roof tiles
- Lime plastering
- Hatha yoga sessions
- Guided meditation and breathing
This is quite an ambitious amount of things to cover in a relatively short space of time, which is why we plan to 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. For example, with lime plastering 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 income as well as to discuss the possibilities for your own situation in a constructive way.
A sense of community will also be cultivated through optional daily Yoga classes and guided meditation to start the day.
All food will be vegetarian/vegan with a focus on nutritious, healthy cuisine to fuel you through the building day. Meals will be eaten together outside under the old Oak tree or inside the straw bale house.
The retreat will take place on our land in France, where camping spots are provided or local accommodation can be found should you prefer.
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, including prices and specific dates, once we have an idea about the amount of interest in the course. Any other comments or suggestions of items to be included in the course would also be very welcome.
*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.