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Topics Covered In Each Hands-On Workshop

The seven-day comprehensive workshop is designed to teach participants everything they need to know to build their own straw bale structure. We work with structures that enable the participants to learn, hands-on, about many facets of straw bale construction. Specific topics covered in the construction of the structures are:

Kingston, WA 2019

The above list represents the basics of what is covered during the hands on phase of the workshop. These topics are also discussed in depth with “on the spot” lectures and question and answer sessions. Your questions on these topics or any other related topics are welcome and encouraged. The discussions are often full of rich information exchanges. Specific topics covered in the lectures are typically inspired by the work taking place on the building; however, additional topics are often raised as well which include:

Again, questions are encouraged and open discussions often spring forth with valuable information for all.

General Guidelines

The days are full and long. We work hard on the job site in the morning and then break for a leisurely lunch. Our afternoons continue the hard work of the morning. Our dinner and evening break is full of fun and play. I encourage people to bring instruments and their willingness to play together. Although physical work is involved in building the structure, participants are encouraged to work at their own pace. You know your limits and those limits are respected. Our goal is to get as far as possible in the construction of the building. In most cases, we will not get beyond the scratch (first) coat of plaster.

Three hearty meals a day are provided as part of the tuition. The meals are delicious and filling. Workshop participants always seem amazed at the great food prepared by the hosts and make a point of thanking the kitchen crew for a wonderful week!

Camping is available on site for free and bathroom facilities are provided, including showers. We ask that showers be kept to a minimum in both duration and frequency to save water and to make sure that every participant has the opportunity to enjoy a hot shower. Some workshop locations may have other accommodations available such as bed and breakfast rooms, cabins, or tipis. Those accommodations are issued on a first come first served basis and may or may not cost extra based on the workshop host/site.

More Than Just Building With Bales

I focus on education in regards to all aspects of the home construction process. My education does not stop at straw bale construction. We discuss other aspects of the home that can be built Green. Flooring, cabinets, construction adhesives, and other items all play a part in the health of the home. Most importantly, we have fun while we explore the concepts of green construction. After all, for me, building without fun is like living without breathing. I love what I do and that is what makes the difference. In fact, I often get the feedback that the friendships created during the week are a huge part of the success of the workshop.


You can email me directly at [email protected] with questions about the workshops.


Hands-On Workshop Frequently Asked Questions

That depends on what you feel like bringing. I send out a tool list once you have signed up for a workshop that covers everything from the essentials like safety gear (glass, hearing protection and gloves) to bale elevators and power tools! The list of required tools and gear is small; however, if you think it would benefit the class, you are welcome to bring any tools and gear you like.

Deposits and tuitions are nonrefundable. Because organizing these events is a major undertaking with a lot of moving pieces, we maintain this policy. 

This is something that we work hard to avoid and is rare in the overall schedule of events. That said, because there are elements of the workshop that are outside of our control (bank financing, permits, COVID, etc.) there is always a slight chance that it could happen. If it were to occur, we would offer you the following options to choose from.

1. You can switch to another workshop location in the current year’s schedule.

2. You can choose to receive a full refund for your tuition/deposit. This is the one situation in which the non-refundable deposit does indeed become refundable.

Airline tickets are less expensive, in most cases, the earlier you buy them so I understand the desire to buy early. That said, I recommend that people buy their tickets no earlier than 30 days prior to the start of the workshop.

In most cases we are able to accommodate people’s needs (Celiac Disease, lactose intolerance, peanut allergy, etc…). As I recently said to a class, this doesn’t mean things like: “I don’t like Brussel Sprouts.” Be sure to let me and/or the host know as soon as possible what requirements you have so we can see what’s possible. We cannot guarantee that we will be able to accommodate every need, but we will do our best to do so.

Absolutely. The level of work performed on the site is entirely up to you. I have had people come and limit their physical work to sweeping up the site and tidying up. That plays a very important role in the workshop and is more helpful than you might imagine. What’s more, I’ve had participants who were only able to watch the entire process, without any hands-on work. They learned a ton and had a great time.

That depends on the individual hosts and the site location. In most cases, we ask that dogs stay at home.

Kids are welcome to join us as guests or as participants, depending on their age. I require that the parents/guardians take full responsibility for the kids and their safety. Keep in mind, that it is a construction site and therefore inherently dangerous. I trust parents/guardians will make the choice appropriate for their kids. Kids under 12 cannot be left unattended, so a non-participating adult must also accompany them. If you plan to bring your children, please contact us in advance at [email protected] to work out the arrangements. When kids are coming as guests, not participating in the actual class, I ask that the parents/guardians pay for their food (assuming they will be eating with us) so that it’s not an extra financial burden for the hosts. The fee is forwarded 100% to the hosts. The costs are $100 for kids under 10, $150 for 10-14, and $200 for 15+. Supervising adults, not attending as paid participants will also be charged the adult food fee. If the kids will be participating in the workshop, then they would pay a normal registration fee.

You are welcome to stay on site or at a hotel. It’s up to you.

In most cases, that’s fine. Once again, I ask that the non-participating person pays for their food: $200 for adults (see above for kids’ food prices). In some cases, there will not be enough space in the class for the person to attend as the hosts sometimes “max out” in terms of food preparation numbers so please ask me ahead of time.

You are most welcome to arrive the day prior to the workshop and stay over on the last night after the class ends if that helps your travel plans.

Every class is different, but the goal is always to have a class that’s large enough to allow people to work at a reasonable pace. We want you to have fun, learn, and feel like you can take a break when you need to. To give you an idea, the average number of participants in each workshop in 2021 was 36 whereas 40 is technically “full.” Again, it’s not about keeping you busy all week. It’s about giving you the opportunity to learn and have fun all week, while still creating a beautiful home for the workshop host.

Navajo Nation, AZ 2022