Affordable Straw Bale Retreat Opportunity!

Written by Gabriella

Andrew and I were recently in Eugene, OR getting our kids settled into the University of Oregon (go Ducks lol!). During our week up there, we had the pleasure of staying in the Dharma Suite at Dharmalaya and can we just say “WOW!!!”? We are sharing some information about this incredibly affordable straw bale retreat center because we think most of you would love it.

straw bale yoga center
The meditation and yoga studio that guests are welcomed to enjoy

Dharmalaya sits on nearly one acre in Eugene and is a model for straw bale construction, permaculture, and intentional community living. Upon entering the compound, we felt like we were stepping into a magical landscape; fruit trees, a bath house, pond, gardens, and of course the stunning straw bale retreat center in which the Dharma Suite lies. The grounds are beautifully kept and our host, Michele, was delightful, making sure we had what we needed.

straw bale retreat entrance
The entrance to your straw bale retreat experience

Walking into the Dharma Suite, our expectations were far exceeded. The warmth of the thick straw bale walls, the exposed timbers, the beauty of the earthen plaster all combined to create a truly beautiful ambiance. The suite has a sizable kitchenette with a mini-fridge, electric kettle, large sink, and tons of counter space. It was loaded with goodies such as fresh fruit, oatmeal, chilled beverages, and a wide selection of teas. There were plenty of plates, mugs, glasses, and flatware. We had ample space for all of our food provisions during our time there.

straw bale retreat bedroom
We thoroughly enjoyed staying in our suite and reading all of the interesting books and magazines on hand

The bed is quite comfortable and cozy and I spent many hours there, reading from some of the interesting books and magazines found on the bookshelves. We had plenty of space for our clothes (hanging and folded items alike) which is sometimes a rarity in AirBnB style accommodations. We also enjoyed the charming writing desk nested into the back corner. A ladder by the closet led up into a loft where we found a nice double bed, allowing for an additional two guests.

Dharma Suite is found within the Dharmalaya building but has its own sense of privacy. Guests are invited to use the large, open space in the main retreat studio for doing yoga, meditation, or just slowing down. They’re also welcome to join the center’s yoga classes at no charge and even to participate in their Sunday singing and meditation group.

straw bale retreat bath house
The bath house is charming and guest of the Dharma Suite their own private bathroom and shower rooms.

The bath house is a very short walk from the guest suite and reached via a sweet footbridge. The Dharma Suite has its own dedicated shower and toilet areas and for any of you curious about how a high-tech composting toilet works, this is your chance to see one in action! And for any of you who are squeamish about such things, not to worry as there’s no negative smell and no, you won’t see everybody else’s “business” in there 😉

Dharmalaya is also home to the nonprofit PROUT Institute. PROUT is a “guiding vision for transformative social change, a comprehensive paradigm for socio-economic planning, and an integrated design system for socio-economic development.”
The Institute expresses on its website its appreciation for being based at Dharmalaya: “The Dharmalaya facilities were designed to demonstrate, in an urban environment, a way of life that has low impact on the earth and that enhances life. Some of the progressive features found at Dharmalaya include: rainwater catchment, organic gardening, permaculture landscaping, photovoltaic electric system, solar hot water systems, constructed wetlands, composting, greywater system, compost toilets, and natural building practices — strawbale walls, earthen plaster, passive solar design, use of recycled and sustainably harvested lumber, and zero toxicity building materials.”
natural plaster on straw bale wall
Over a decade later, the natural plaster has held up to the test of time perfectly and with little upkeep

The center was founded in 2002 and the straw bale structure was built with community help during a hands on workshop. To this day the building looks as good as it did when first built. Andrew was so impressed by the natural plaster job done 15 years ago that he asked Michele for more information on their recipe. Getting that type of longevity with Natural Hydraulic Lime (NHL) plaster is one thing, but with earthen plaster, it’s much more challenging. It’s really a stunning example of straw bale construction.

Dharmalaya center welcome sign
An affordable and one of a kind retreat awaits at the Dharmalya Suite

For any of you feeling burned out by day-to-day life and/or wanting to exercise loving self care, Dharmalaya provides the sanctuary. For an incredibly affordable price you can have a one of a kind getaway while staying in a stunning straw bale retreat. And because the Eugene area has so much to offer to support your vacation/retreat (i.e., natural hot springs, miles of hiking, dozens of lakes and rivers, healthy food, etc), it really is the perfect location for an unforgettable experience. You can find out more about PROUT here and how to book the Dharma Suite here.




Want to learn more about straw bale houses and how to build one? Want to do so for FREE? Sign up for our totally free 16 Day Straw Bale eCourse! Find out more HERE.

6 Responses

  1. Hi Renelle. You can contact the retreat center through the Air BnB page, which is listed in the blog post. We are not directly affiliated with the retreat center other than we stayed there ourselves and shared our experience with you all. Hope that helps!

  2. Thanks to both of you for the constant flow of interesting and inspiring information. Your pictures are great! Thank you!

  3. I am interested in staying here with my family of 4 the end of March. what are the costs and would it be available? we have two boys ages 11 and 12.

  4. Hi Lori. It’s a great place. You would need to connect with them directly for booking information. There are links within the article so you can reach them. Cheers.

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