Ferncliff Straw Bale Eco Center

Written by Gabriella

people on a bridge
Ferncliff Camp is a special place. Located just a few miles outside of Little Rock, Arkansas, this beautiful 1,200 acre learning center has been a gathering place for youth and adults for decades. At the helm of this amazing mecca for sustainability, outreach work and 130 or so retreat groups per year is David Gill, a man deeply committed to caring for the Earth. His mission: for Ferncliff to be one of the greenest camps in the country.

Ferncliff is the location for our April 8-14 workshop during which we will help them bale a 5,300 sq ft Eco Center. It’s an exciting project that is drawing people from all walks of life, including 10 AmeriCorps volunteers that are eager to learn about creating sustainable housing. David has noticed an increase in the youth’s desire to be the best land stewards that they can be and as such, he feels it’s vitally important that they new center reflect the value of sustainability.

Ferncliff campers

My interview with David was inspiring. He is a man that has devoted his life to helping others and to raising awareness about the importance of taking gentle care of our planet. His path in life has led him down a rewarding road in which he has touched the lives of thousands of others in a profound and incredibly positive way. A Presbyterian minister, he feels that missionary work and caring for the Earth, “Go together really well.”

The idea to create the Eco Center out of straw bales came from David’s research when looking for the most efficient and low impact building technology to build the structure with. David shares that when he stumbled upon information about straw bale, he had found an “ideal fit.” Arkansas is the largest rice producer in the US and he loves that the bales will come from a local source. The Eco Center will be home to the Solar School (providing small scale, solar electric systems to power low-income community applications), will be able to house 20-30 campers, and will serve as a retreat center for the large number of groups that come to Ferncliff each year.

David believes that Ferncliff Camp should not just follow what other camps are doing to become more sustainable but should lead the way in any way that they can. He feels it’s important that he always continue to live with intention, serving his local and distant communities as well as our planet.

The Ferncliff community and its donors are very excited about the concept of straw bale and the building has become a wonderful source for conversation and enthusiasm. The workshop itself is going to be a barn raising/community event unlike any we have ever seen and we are greatly looking forward to being a part of this amazing and innovative project. We are so excited to meet all of you that have signed up already to help create Ferncliff’s Eco Center and we invite the rest of you to join us as well…it’s going to be a workshop to never forget!


April 8-14

Go fishing or canoeing in one of their two beautiful lakes

Borrow mountain bikes or mountain boards to explore the area

Visit their garden/farm and see their 10,000 sq ft Disaster Assistance Center

Meals will be served at Ferncliff’s dining hall (a pleasant 1/2 mile stroll, or take their solar powered shuttle!)

Camp on the beautiful grounds (bathhouse with 8 showers and toilets included)


Stay in one of the tree house or stackwood log cabins (mattresses provided)

Rent from a variety of other cabins available on the Ferncliff grounds for a small fee

For more information and to sign up, click HERE. (SORRY. This workshop has now completed. To see our full range of one-of-a-kind hands on straw bale workshops, click HERE)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.