Madison area, WI Hands-On Straw Bale Workshop taught by: Andrew Morrison

Are you excited about the idea of living in a straw bale house but unsure of how to make your dream a reality (or are flat out terrified to even get started)? Join us at our seven-day, hands-on workshop!

Our workshops are designed to meet the needs of both the novice builder and experienced contractor. Andrew’s grasp of construction technology, with over 20 years as a professional builder, comes through in his ability to explain each detail in a way that benefits all participants. Our goal is to prepare you with a truly well-rounded educational experience so when it comes time for your build, you have the confidence to handle anything that comes up from construction hiccups to personal stress management.

So, come and join us…we would love to have you with us! Our workshops are rewarding, engaging, highly informational, and an absolute blast! Truly, much, much more than just a workshop!!

In The Host's Own Words

The Host

Hello and willkommen! My name is Ellen and I’ve lived most of my life in the Madison area. Building a home has been my primary goal the last seven years and I’m thrilled to be at the point where everything is coming together.

Before I get ahead of myself, I probably should introduce you a bit more to myself and my property, Fernsicht. For those of you who are not familiar with German, “Fernsicht” is a noun that means “clear and/or distant views”. It is a nod to the street name of the property and the view of Blue Mounds from the west side of the field. The foliage in summer blocks a lot of the view but when I first saw the hills rising up in the distance, I was struck by the beauty and meditative qualities of the land. I hope that by building a home here, I can really tap into the clarity and focus that spending time caring for the earth gives me.

I’ve lived a somewhat transient lifestyle my entire adult life and have moved at least 14 times. My jobs have also reflected that, as I have drifted from working in schools to remodeling houses to working in local government and, most recently, working in a gift shop. Previously I’ve spent some time living in Germany and I am grateful that I’ve learned enough German to dive deep into the culture. I’m at a point in my life now, though, where I crave a peaceful home with spaces for me to grow flowers, herbs, and vegetables, and create wood crafts and fiber art. 

I hope that this experience will provide you with time for introspection, deep connections with people who share similar passions, and, quite possibly, some singing and shenanigans around a campfire.

The Build

Located just outside of Madison in the sprawling farmland of southern Wisconsin, my property is a 15-acre field with rolling hills and a border of deciduous trees. I dream of nurturing this blank canvas into a lush food forest and, eventually, an organic farm focused on seedlings and cut flowers. Way down the road, I envision my property as an educational retreat space. The straw bale house I am building is the first step in realizing that dream.

The 1500 sq. ft. two bedroom house will be the first structure built on the property and is the focus of this workshop. I plan on this being a forever home, so I’ve focused on sustainable construction practices, quality natural materials, and accessibility. The property will be run completely off-grid with a well, solar power, and geothermal heat. The straw for the house will come directly from the farmer who is currently working the land.

Your Stay

I highly recommend you arrive early for the workshop and enjoy the Dane County Farmers’ market on Capitol Square (only 35 minutes away!). It is the largest producers-only farmers’ market in the entire country and the joyous atmosphere on Saturday mornings is contagious. There are many other attractions in the area including local craft breweries, State Street, Cave of the Mounds, and Devil’s Lake State Park.

Some other special sites to see include: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin, House on the Rock, or if you have the chance to visit American Players Theatre, their outdoor stage in the woods is super cool.

During your stay, we will be providing all meals and drinks, but if you need anything, the closest towns, Black Earth and Cross Plains, are both less than 10 minutes away. There you can find gas stations, groceries, and restaurants (including the beloved Midwest fast food chain, Culver’s). While I think camping onsite provides the best workshop experience, if you prefer to stay in a hotel, there are many accommodations located 20 minutes away in Middleton.


Bringing your own vehicle will provide you with the most flexibility, but should you choose to fly in, we will provide a shuttle service from the Dane County Airport. If you fly into Chicago O’Hare, the Van Galder bus service has an excellent direct connection from the airport terminal to downtown Madison. Please provide us with advance notice if you need any sort of transportation.

I had the time of my life at the 2021 CoodaBenna workshop and greatly appreciated the extra effort the hosts gave to make meals hassle-free and nighttime fires entertaining. The overall experience was magical. I hope to provide an equally impactful and inclusive experience if you choose to come build with me and my friends and family this summer.

What's Included in Your Tuition?

All workshop participants receive the following with their registration…


"A Modern Look At Straw Bale Construction"
($24.99 Value)

Instant Download

"Be Your Own Contractor"
Instant Download Videos
($34.99 Value)

Five Step-By-Step Instructional Videos

Instant Download Videos:
Concrete Framing Post And Beam Load Bearing Lime Plastering
($79.99 Value)

Top Notch Instruction From Andrew (priceless!!!) Plus...

3 Healthy Meals/Day
Camping Space
Shower and Bathroom Facilities

Straw Bale Details

22 Page Instant Download Booklet
($20 Value)

Madison area, WI Hands-On Straw Bale Workshop

Is the Workshop Right For Me?

It Is If...

You don’t want to be that person that says “How hard can it be?” and then becomes the cautionary tale amongst your friends and family.

You want to save money by building your own straw bale house but also want to make certain that you avoid costly mistakes.

You’re an experienced builder but want to learn all the nuances & ins and outs of straw bale construction.

You’ve already designed your home, or even started to build. Now you’re running into a lot of questions and challenges and aren’t sure how to move forward.

You’ve never built anything before and don’t know if you’re insane for even considering building your own straw bale house.

Bale Stacking Details

Create strong and durable walls by learning the techniques used by master balers.

Retying And Resizing Bales

Master the fastest knot tying system to save time and money on your project.

Framing Considerations

Our framing system speeds your construction and lowers your budget.

Electrical Details

Learn how to simplify the incorporation of electrical wiring in your bale walls.

Shaping Bales

Create gorgeous curves and sexy transitions to create an inspiring home with the art of bale shaping.

straw bale round window

Windows, Doors and HVAC

Keep your house moisture & mold free with proper ventilation and window/door installations.

Creating Niches

Include pockets of beauty in your home with the installation of straw bale niches or “nichos”.

Cabinets And Special Installs

Master effective strategies to install cabinets, partition walls, and other special installations.

straw bale wall

Plaster Prep Techniques

Build a strong foundation for your home’s plaster and ensure years of protection for your investment.

plastering straw bale wall

Natural Plastering

Learn the art of plastering in order to create a beautiful and durable finish for your home.

Financing And Insurance

Navigate the confusing world of paying for and insuring your straw bale home.

Endless Q & A

Ask me anything related to your personal project or general straw bale construction. ANYTHING!

Your Mentor is Andrew Morrison

Andrew has over 20 years of professional construction experience and in that time has done everything from design and build his own house, work as a licensed contractor and developer, give a TEDx talk (and numerous other presentations), co-author a national building code, to host several step-by-step instructional videos on contracting and building houses, and much more. 

His greatest passion is teaching others how to build their own dream home and inspiring them to reach the highest level of their own greatness. Since 2006, Andrew has personally taught over 3,000 participants at his workshops. Through his kindness, sense of humor, and ability to teach complex concepts in easy-to-understand terms, his workshops are a mega-hit amongst his graduates. Make sure to bring your questions, curiosity, instruments (if you play any), and let’s have some fun while we build with bales!

Madison area, WI Hands-On Straw Bale Workshop

Here Is What Fellow Workshop Attendees Are Saying...

“You truly are an inspiring teacher. All who are lucky enough to be your students receive the great gifts of your expertise, your humor, and your belief that we can all make a difference one home at a time. It was such a great pleasure to meet you and to be guided by you. I hope to be able to repeat the experience in the future.”
Karen Pope
“Based on the information on the website and in the resource materials at I came to the Corvallis workshop with very high expectations. After a week of fabulous instruction and wonderful fellowship I am happy to report that my expectations were far EXCEEDED. Andrew is a teacher of rare talent. I will carry the lessons forward and am excited for the opportunity to use the new information to build our own straw bale heaven!”
Mary Bushman
“It is not only your experience that makes these workshops successful but your spirit and outlook on life. I was so impressed by how you can get a group of people to work so smoothly on a construction site, then at the end of the day still want to be around each other laughing and sharing. Once again thank you for such a great experience. Best Regards.”
Theresa Coleman
“This class literally PAID FOR ITSELF in the first day. The amount of knowledge that Andrew shared along with his ability to explain complex details in simple, easy to understand language made the educational aspect of this workshop amazing. AND, we had a blast!!!”
Clint Pinder

To Watch A Short And Fun Video Of Our Workshop Experience, Start The Video Below

Play Video

Read Answers To Our Most FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs) And Learn WHAT TO EXPECT At Our Workshops HERE.

Madison area, WI Hands-On Straw Bale Workshop

Modifying Plans

In most cases, our customers use their local resources, their builder or designer, to make the changes to the plans; however, it is sometimes possible to work directly with the original architect or designer to make the necessary changes. A fee of some kind will be in place for such modifications, and that fee is set by the architect or designer.

Steps To Take

Step 1:

First, find a plan that is almost perfect.

Step 2

Buy the plan you would like to customize.

Step 3

Work with a design professional to fine-tune your plan!

We are happy to put you in direct contact with the architect and designer if they are open to modifications (see below for the current availability of the designer of this plan.)

To work with the original architect or designer, you will first need to purchase the plans. We will then put you in direct contact with the architect or designer. At that point, we will no longer be involved with your discussions as they relate to the changes to the plans. 

Should you decide not to work with the original architect or designer, you are welcome to work with anyone of your choosing to modify the plans in line with the copyright requirements stated in the Terms of Use

Is This Designer Available For Modifications?