Sunday, September 28, 2008

New Blog to explore

I just found out about a new blog that shares information about new intentional communities.

Thought that you might find it interesting to read and explore :)


Almost time for Road Trip

Autumn season is now officially here, and I am so looking forward to my road trip which should be happening in a couple of weeks...around the middle of October, which for folks here in Canada is right after Thanksgiving weekend.

My first stop will be at my friends homestead in BC for a few days and then I am heading to Winnipeg to connect up with friends from the Winnipeg Catholic Worker and also to connect with Norm and spend some time on the SSS land that has just be acquired. I heard through an email that Norm may be moving the cabin onto the land the end of October, so hopefully that works well with my trip.

I am so excited to be taking this road trip and spending some time on the land, hoping to connect with others who are involved with SSS.

So am interested in what type of research or links that you would like to be having on this journal. I am currently on holidays and have time to do some research to help out with SSS if needed.


Saturday, August 30, 2008

Summer almost over

Well summer is almost over ...we are at the end of August....I have not heard any more news of the new land, but hope to hear more soon.

I am now officially on leave from work...actually I have resigned , but the door has been left open to return ....I am going to be taking care of a dear friend of mine who is being released from hospital next week from recovering from a daughter and I are going to be staying with him for a month and help him get back on his feet....he has been recovering very well, and is now using a walker to be mobile....

My daughter decided to homeschool for her last year of highschool, so that leaves possibilities and opportunities available for traveling...and I am really hoping to get out to meet the folks that are involved with this homestead project :) Road trips are in my future.

Life is good!


Saturday, June 14, 2008

Exciting News and Updates

I have just heard that SSS is now in the process of acquring some land!!!!

This will mean HUGE steps forward and developments in the near future. Stay tuned!

As news for me, personally, I have decided to work for the summer months and then make decisions in September...this is due to the fact that my daughter Jen wanted to work at a summer camp for the summer months this year, which is awesome! Jen has also decided that for her final year of highschool she is going to homeschool , which means so much more freedom for us as a family to explore, travel and visit various homesteads ....

I am also going to be working towards purchasing a yurt so that when I visit places we can have a place to live for a few months until we can build something semi more permanent.

I am so working towards getting a drivers license so that we can purchase a van to live out of also and become a vandweller when visiting homestead lands!

All this of course takes some money , so hence the decision to work full time during the summer months while my daughter is away at camp.

Looking forward to hearing more news for SSS and will share here as we know more developments!


Saturday, March 29, 2008

Renewing interest

I have been given an opportunity to move to a homestead in British Columbia. I am going to check it out on the May long weekend and then will be making a decision to move there....I will be renewing links and websites of interest to homesteading to this journal for those that are interested.

This could be either for those involved with the society, or for those that may just be interested in homesteading information.

Will keep you up to date on the homestead in BC.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Winter Holiday Celebrations

Would anyone like to share their traditions that they participate in for Family Winter Holidays?

Looking to establish some traditions for our community and would love to hear about your celebrations !

Monday, October 02, 2006

Another good link with info

Here is a link for a start up kit for Manitoba co-ops

Requirements for Manitoba Cooperative

Forming a Co-operative in Manitoba

1. Three (3) or more individuals or two (2) or more corporations or one (1) or more cooperatives.
2. A common need must exist.
3. Must be organized and operate on a cooperative basis.
4. Complete articles of incorporation in the form approved by the Registrar.
5. Prepare by-laws.
6. Prepare a prospectus or offering statement, if required.
7. Submit the incorporation documents and fees
($70 for Community Cooperative and $250 for all other cooperatives) to the Registrar of Cooperatives at::
Registrar of CooperativesManitoba Consumer and Corporate Affairs
1115-405 Broadway Ave
Winnipeg, MB R3C 3L6
Telephone: (204) 945-4466
Fax: (204) 948-2268

For more information on The Co-operative Loans and Loans Guarantee Board, the Cooperative Promotion Board or assistance in incorporation contact:
Industry, Trade & MinesCooperative Development Services
605-800 Portage Ave.
Winnipeg, MB R3G 0N4
Telephone: (204) 945-3748Toll-free MB only: 1-800-567-7334 Fax: (204) 948-2362

Coooperatives in Canada

Here is a good link for some information from the government on creating a cooperative in Canada,

Manitoba Cooperatives

Here is a good link with lots of information about cooperatives in Manitoba.

Cooperative Links

Since the group met and shared some thoughts about starting a cooperative, thought that I would provide some links here to get started on exploring ways of starting a cooperative and what is needed.

Here is a link to starting up a cooperative and even though it is based for has some good information;

Are there different types of co-operatives?

The co-operative model for organizing a business is recognized and practiced world-wide as a successful alternative to other forms of business structure. In Alberta, co-operatives operate successfully in many areas of the economy. They range in size from small business to large corporations and from non profit servfice organizations to large trade associations.

Co-operatives can be found listed among the top companies in Canada and the United States.Virtually any type of business is a potential co-operative organization. As defined in provincial legislation, a co-operative can be incorporated for the purpose of carrying on any lawful industry, trade or business on a co-operative basis.

There are five basic types of co-operatives which can be established as either business co-ops or not-for- profit co-ops:

Consumer/Supply co-operatives:
Consumer or supply co-operatives sell merchandise to members at competitive rates. They provide members with a variety of goods including petroleum, food, hardware, building materials and agricultural supplies. These operations are owned and democratically controlled by the members who shop in them.
Financial co-operatives:
Co-operatives provide a full range of financial and insurance services to their members and non- members. Through their innovative programs and community support, both financial and insurance co-operatives have witnessed prolonged growth. There are more than 180 separate credit unions and caisses populaires in Alberta.
Marketing/producer co-operatives:
Marketing co-operatives are created by producers to process, market and distribute their products. In Alberta, agricultural producers of dairy, grains, honey and poultry have established co-operatives to process and sell their goods.
Craft co-ops market their members' products. A member's use of the co-op is measured by what he or she sells through the co-op as opposed to what he or she buys from the co-op.
Service co-operatives:
Service co-operatives provide a wide range of services in Alberta.Rural Albertans have used co-operatives to provide electrical power, natural gas, water and sewage services. Not-for-profit service co-operatives such as child care centres allow community members to fill a need while taking more control over the services they use.Housing co-operatives provide a unique form of home ownership. Non-profit housing co- operatives offer resident-members a say in how their housing is managed. Housing co-operatives may also be structured to allow members to build both equity and a community of shared values.
Worker co-operatives:
While consumer co-operatives are owned by their customers, worker co-operatives are owned by their employees. A worker co-operative is established by workers to provide themselves with employment and full control of their work environment. Members are the worker-owners. Any potential business could be organized as a worker co-operative.

Provincial or regional federations, centrals, councilsThere are several provincial and regional associations to which local co-operatives may belong. These larger communities of co-operatives and credit unions are useful as sources of information, education, and other forms of assistance in starting a co-operative. They are also a resource in identifying suppliers, in marketing and other operational aspects of a co-operative.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Earth Easy Living

Here is a link to a website about sustainable living

Home made Cup a Soup

Homemade Cup a Soup Recipes

Make Your Own Cup Of Soup

All of the following snacks are under 25 calories, some are under 10! They are warm, fast and satisfying, especially when you are hungry for something, but don’t know what. All are made by adding 1 cup of boiling water to a packet of low-sodium broth powder. I mix mine in a mug, but a bowl would work just as well.

Sick Woman's Salvation: 1 cup hot chicken bouillon with a dash of lemon pepper. 6 calories.

Maggie’s Favorite: 1 cup hot chicken bouillon with a dash each of onion powder and cayenne pepper. 7 calories. I often add an unsalted, crumbled saltine cracker which brings the calories up to 20.

Tangy Beef Cup: 1 cup hot beef bouillon with a dash of Worcestershire sauce. 5 calories.

Spicy Beef Cup: 1/2 cup each beef bouillon and tomato juice with a shot of hot sauce. 23 calories.

Chicken Curry: 1 cup hot chicken bouillon with a pinch of curry powder, 2 teaspoons dry instant rice, or cooked rice, and a pinch of dry parsley. 21 calories.

Country Compassion: 1 cup hot ham or beef bouillon, 1 teaspoon bacon bits; 1 teaspoon mashed potato flakes and 1/2 teaspoon dry onion. 19 calories.

French Onion: 1 cup beef bouillon, 1 teaspoon dry onion and a small pinch of garlic powder. 10 calories.

French Onion Supreme: Prepare French Onion above. Crumble 1 saltine cracker into the soup, and add 1/2 teaspoon grated Parmesan cheese. 25 calories.

Vegetable Beef: 1 cup hot beef bouillon poured over 1/2 cup shredded salad greens. The boiling broth will cook the vegetables just enough. Add a dash each hot pepper flakes, onion powder and garlic powder. A few celery leaves are also nice. 15 calories.

Home made Convience Foods

Here is a great link for making your own homemade convience foods!

Menu Ideas

I found this link for inexpensive menu plan and thought that I would share it with you.

Natural Plant Dyes

Here are some links for making natural plant dyes:

Craft Links

Here is a website that has links to just about any kind of craft you want to learn how to do:

Homestead Greenhouse

Here are some links for creating your own Homestead Greenhouse

Inexpensive Water Well

Here is a good article for putting in your own water well!

And here is a link for your own Hand Pump.

Root Cellar Links

Here are some links to articles about building your own Root Cellars

There is lots of good information here, worth reading if you are considering creating your own Root Cellar...which I would highly recommend!

Root Cellar Basics

Root Cellar Basics BY Al Durtschi
Taken from website:

Jump within page to...
Temperature is your most important interest
Your second most important consideration is humidity
Air circulation
How big of a cellar should you build?
What kind of root cellar is right for you?
Construction methods
Using your root cellar
Vegetables and their optimum storage conditions

Cool and moist conditions are required for storing most vegetables. Because of this, when planning a root cellar, several things need to be taken into consideration.
Temperature is your most important interest: As your root cellar needs to be kept as cool as possible, there are several things you can do to promote this:

First, borrow cold from the ground. Earth, even two feet down, gives a remarkable year wide temperature stability. The further down you go the better it is. You must go down a full 10 feet before complete temperature stability is reached. But for the average builder, how deep you go is limited because of expenses.

You can also borrow cool from the air. Often the night’s air temperature will be cooler than the air in your cellar.

And finally, you should do what you can to prevent heat from having access to your cellar. This includes:
Having your root cellar in the shade throughout the day

Building on the north side of hills

Wise use of insulation Your second most important consideration is humidity. Even if kept cool, in a low humidity environment, your vegetables will soften and shrivel up. Most vegetables require high humidities. A typical underground root cellar will generally maintain a high humidity all by itself if it has an earth or dirt floor.

Air circulation: The best root cellars have vents. This is because the vegetables in your cellar give off gasses that often are conducive to either spoilage or sprouting. For example, apples naturally give off ethylene gas which makes potatoes sprout prematurely. (This can be used to your advantage if you have potatoes that are slow sprouting. Put’em both in a plastic bag.) Good venting fundamentals include:

Have an inlet vent and an outlet vent.

The outlet must always be at the highest level in the cellar with the outlet tube flush with the inner wall.

The inlet should come into the cellar at the bottom. This is easily done if your cellar is built into a hill, but nearly as easy if it is buried in flat ground. With your inlet vent opening on top of the ground near your outlet vent, your inlet vent pipe must go all the way to the floor before opening into your cellar.

Keep shelves a couple of inches away from the walls of the cellar. This will greatly promote circulation around the vegetables stored on these shelves.

To prevent your potatoes from sprouting prematurely, keep your apples above them so the circulating air moves away from your potatoes.

Have a system in place to close your vents in freezing weather. Something as simple as a big sponge can work for this. If you have very cold winters, you may wish to block off both ends of each vent pipe.
How big of a cellar should you build?
A 5 foot by 8 foot root cellar will store 30 bushels of produce.
An 8 foot by 8 foot cellar should hold plenty for the average family.
A 10 foot by 10 foot cellar should take care of everything you can produce. Shelves: We have already mentioned shelves should be kept at least a couple of inches away from the walls for increased ventilation.
Other things to consider are:
Use rot resistant or pressure treated wood. After several years they will be less likely to rot and break, tumbling your foods on the floor. (The book gave one example of a person who went down to her cellar one day to find a good share of her canned fruit and vegetables broken on the floor. As the lids on canned goods rust after a couple of years, plan a dryer, cool place for these items.)

Liberal use of shelves will enhance the storage capacity of your cellar considerably. What kind of root cellar is right for you? Here are some possibilities with a few advantages/disadvantages:

Build your root cellar into a hill.

You don’t have to find a door lying on the ground when it is under 3 feet of snow.
There is less chance of flooding during very wet conditions

Your cellar can be graded so any water that should run or seep in will run out the door.

Can be much more difficult to excavate. Build your root cellar on flat ground.

Availability: not everyone has a steep hill in their back yard

Easier to excavate

Easier and cheaper to build (you don’t have to brace your cellar for all that extra weight from the hill). But that added dirt will keep your cellar cooler!

You can build a vertical door around a staircase if you don’t want to be shoveling snow to get at a horizontal door.
Build your cellar as part of your house: Our house which is only one year old had a root cellar built into it when the house was constructed. Many older houses have a section of the basement that has an earthen floor.
It’s primary reason was probably for vegetable storage. You can also:

Build and insulate a room in this area.

Dig a cellar next to the house with an entry way to your cellar through the basement.
Put your cellar in an existing underground structure such as a pump house.

Construction methods:
Dugout: The cheapest way to go in stable soil
Wood construction: Be sure to use pressure treated wood.
Dirt: the simplest way to go and excellent for humidity control.
Gravel: In a very damp or very dry area you will want to put down three inches of gravel. If your cellar is unusually wet, you may want to even dig a sump in the middle of your cellar floor and fill this with gravel, along with the three inches on the floor. In very dry soil conditions you can sprinkle water on the gravel which will greatly increase the evaporation surface area.
Wood: put gaps in your boards for a higher humidity cellar.
Cement: If you want a storage area that is lower in humidity, this is a good way to go.
You may wish to build two rooms in your cellar. One with a cement floor for lower humidity storage items, and another room with no floor for higher humidity storage items. If you did this, the wall between the rooms should be as air tight as you can make it.

If you have a venting system, you should have a separate set of vents for each room. And lastly, the high humidity storage area should be the far room in the cellar.
Using your root cellar:
Keep a thermometer and humidity gauge in your cellar.

Keep the door(s) closed to your cellar as much as possible if it is warm outside.

During the spring and fall of the year, open your vents (and even perhaps the door) at night when the temperature is dropping below the temperature of the air in your cellar.
Close them early in the morning before the outside air warms up. (Be careful not to do this if the temperature is expected to drop below freezing.)

If the humidity in your cellar is too low you can raise it by:

Leaving at least the floor of your cellar exposed to the earth (a dirt floor or air gaps in your floor down to the earth).

Sprinkle water on a graveled floor or lay out damp towels or burlap bags.

Pack root vegetables in damp saw dust, sand or moss.

One caution about high humidities: If you get much of a temperature fluctuation in your cellar, humid air as it cools past it’s dew point will condense on the ceiling, walls, and produce. Excess water on your goods can induce spoilage.

Cover vegetables with burlap, towels, etc. to absorb excess condensing moisture.

Also, if your air is condensing inside, open your vents if the air outside is cooler than it is inside.

Even if it is very humid air, as it warms in the root cellar, it’s relative humidity will drop. Of course, the opposite can happen. If you let warm damp air in, moisture will condense out as it cools.

During extremely cold weather, if your cellar is threatening to freeze, put a light bulb inside. If you do this, you need to cover your potatoes so they won’t turn green.

(Do not use a kerosene lantern. Kerosene lanterns produce ethylene, which is a fruit ripener.)

Also remember that snow is an excellent insulator. Don’t tramp down or remove the snow on top of your root cellar any more than you have to in order to gain entry.

Keep a fairly close eye on your produce and remove any that has begun to spoil. (It is a true axiom that 'one bad apple with spoil the bushel.'


THINGS YOU CAN DO(to be more self-sufficient)
How, where and what you do to become self-sufficient is a personal choice. Doing as much as you can yourself in the environment you live is a noble goal. It takes time and discipline to reach your goals but once they are reached it can be quite liberating. Here's a list of things you can do (some big, some small) to become more self-sufficient. You will find that most of these tips will save you money and are good for the environment. Saving money comes hand in hand with self-sufficiency. Your labor is much cheaper than someone else's.

Plant your own vegetable garden.
Change your own oil on your car or truck.
Cut your own firewood.
Collect and use rain water instead of municiple or well water.
Supplement your house's heating system with solar water panels.
Supplement your hot water needs with solar water panels.
Mulch your garden with local organic mulch instead of store bought products.
Use home-made compost and free manure to enrich your garden's soil.
Grow non-hybrid vegetables and save the seeds for next year's planting.
Grow potatoes and save the fingerlings for next years planting.
Use square foot gardening techniques to grow lots of vegetables in small places.
Build a greenhouse to extend your growing season.
Build a root cellar to store your harvest.
Start a small orchard for a variety of fruits.
Learn how to preserve food by canning.
Raise bees to help pollination and for honey. (Honey is the only food substance that will not spoil.)
Raise chickens for meat and eggs.
Raise sheep for wool and meat.
Raise goats or a dairy cow for dairy products.
Preserve vegetables by sun drying them.
Spin wool into yarn for making clothes.
Make your own furniture out of tree branches.
Preserve vegetables by freezing them.
Grow herbs for cooking and medicinal purposes.
Use edible wild plants to supplement one's diet.
Use containers to grow vegetables in small places.
Use chicken manure (composted) to help fertilize your garden.
Use, use and reuse as much as possible before throwing away.
Conserve electricity whenever possible.
Tune-up your own car or truck.
Sharpen your own tools.
Build your own home.
Grow grapes for preserves or raisins.
Build a pond and raise fish for food.
Use solar panels to supplement your energy needs.
Learn how to use a welder.
Use clothes lines to dry clothes instead of a mechanical dryer.
Grow grains to feed your own livestock.
Grow alfalfa to return nitrogen to the soil.
Use a generator for emergency and supplemental power.
Dig or drive your own well (make sure the water is tested before using for drinking).
Bake your own bread.
Do your own plumbing.
Do your own electrical work.
Run a small business from your home.
Barter goods and services with your neighbors.
Use a push mower instead of a gas or electric mower.
Use a bicycle (whenever possible) instead of a motorized vehicle.
Consider becoming a vegetarian. (Raising animals for food takes more energy and resources than growing vegetables--eat lower on the food chain.)
Have any maples trees? Make your own syrup as a sugar substitute.
Not a vegetarian? Supplement your diet by hunting game.
Home school your children. They can incorporate gardening and livestock care into their curriculum and it saves on travel(environmentally sound), uniform costs and school trip expenses(frugal).As well as allowing them to be educated in sustainable living/permaculture. Something schools don't cover!! It's rewards are many fold and results in happy well balanced children!!!! (Submitted by Naomi Lever)

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Grow and Store Your Own Food

Grow and Store Your Own Food

(Taken from website: )

One of the first steps that you can take to become self-sufficient is to start a vegetable garden. In doing so, you will not only practice self-sufficiency, but you will also eat healthier. The key is to start small. Don't overwhelm yourself by planting a huge garden. There's a learning curve here, so don't try to do everything in one year. Take your time with it and get a good understanding of what it takes to grow a vegetable garden.
Here's a few ideas to get you started.

1. Start by using a very small area to grow your garden. Four feet by twelve feet would be sufficient. Use some untreated lumber or cinder blocks to wall off an area. If your soil is already rich and fertile, go ahead and fill this "box" with good soil. If you do not have good soil, obtain a rich humus soil from a local source or buy top soil by the bag, along with some peat moss and some composted manure. (Be careful where you get your local soil, sometimes the soil isn't that good or it may contain weed seeds. Bagged products, at least in our neck of the woods is the best with very little clay.) You may also want to pick up Mel Bartholomew's book on Square Foot Gardening. His book will give you all of the details of how you can grow a lot of vegetables in small square foot sections.
2. Choose some vegetables that are easy to grow, store well and that you like to eat. Some suggestions are varieties of dried bean, green bean, onion, broccoli, cauliflower, sugar snap peas, and carrots. You could also try your hand at plum tomatoes, although you will need to learn how to can them. Dried beans are about the easiest to store. In most cases, you can leave them dry right on the plant and then harvest them at the end of the season. Onions are easy too. Green beans, broccoli, cauliflower and sugar snap peas can be blanched and frozen in freezer bags. Carrots can stay in the ground until early winter. Freezing vegetables is not the ideal way of storing food due to the reliance of a powered (electric or gas) freezer, but it's an easy way to get started.
Remember this is your first year at this. You probably won't have a whole lot to store at the end of the year, but you will get a good understanding of what it takes to store your own food. If your interested in a more advanced approach read on.
4. For those of you who have a larger garden area, there's quite a bit more that you can do. If you have the space, a larger vegetable garden can greatly reduce the need for outside resources for your food source. But be aware that there will always be crop failures and other unforeseen things that might effect your ability to store food. And speaking of storing food, the best option for storing most of this food is a root cellar.
A root cellar can be built directly into the ground or it could be a cool damp area set aside in a basement. Either way a root cellar is an excellent way to store food without the use of electricity or other outside resources. Root vegetables such as carrots, potatoes,turnips, beets, parsnips and celeriac can be stored for a number of months in a root cellar. Squash does quite well in a root cellar as well as apples, oranges and grapes. And if you are into canning, this is a great place to store all of your canned goods too. Just be sure to rodent proof it, so the critters don't get to your food before you do.
5. A food dehydrator is also a good way of preserving your vegetables without leaching out any of the nutrients. Food dehydrators are great for most vegetables and fruits as well. There's quite a few good commercial dehydrators available on the market, but you might want to build your own. There are quite a few good plans available for solar dehydrators. With a little ingenuity, you can dry most of your vegetables using a home built dehydrator and a few days of sun. Using a solar dehydrator is a great way to become more self-sufficient without the need of any outside resources.

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Lost Art of Root Cellars

The Lost Art of Pantries and Root Cellars
by Kelly Hart

(Taken from website: )
In this age of electric refrigeration, the use of cool storage pantries and root cellars has all but faded into oblivion. This is unfortunate, since they have great value for many reasons. There is only so much that can be put into a refrigerator, and the bigger the fridge, the more it costs to keep it cool. With pantries and root cellars, the storage potential is much greater and the cool atmosphere is free and non-polluting.

There is a distinction between a root cellar and a cool pantry: humidity. A true root cellar should be kept fairly moist in order to best preserve the crops that are stored there, whereas a pantry needs to be much dryer to avoid spoilage. Root cellars are limited in their use, but a pantry can store practically anything.

Before the days of refrigeration, root cellars and ice boxes were about the only way to keep certain crops fresh after harvest. Root cellars were usually separate from the house and dug into the ground to take advantage of the cool, stable temperature beneath the surface.
Depending on how often the produce needs to be accessed, there are differing strategies for creating the space.

The simplest concept is to just bury a garbage can in the ground, with the lid protruding above, then digging a trench around the can so that straw can be thrown on top and then plastic sheeting placed over it all with rocks to hold it down. Damp burlap or sand can be enclosed with the produce to maintain the proper humidity. Obviously it takes some work to get at the produce, but this method will store some items, especially over the winter.

A more elaborate and convenient root cellar will have a door for entry, sometimes placed flat on the ground or at an angle, but probably the best arrangement is with a vertical, insulated door. If the root cellar itself is completely underground (which it really needs to be to take advantage of the cool earth), then there would be steps that descend to the door, or a covered entrance with steps after the door.

Another possibility is digging into a hillside. Depending on the stability of the soil, the sides of the excavation might either be left unfinished or lined with materials to create a retaining wall. The roof needs to be supported by some fairly massive timbers to support up to two feet of dirt placed on top. Care should be taken to avoid contact between the dirt and any wood used. Sheets of heavy polyethylene can be used to good advantage to protect the wood. Usually if the floor is left as natural earth, or just has a layer of gravel on it, the humidity will remain high enough to store most produce.

It is a good idea to provide some ventilation, with a high outlet vent and a low inlet vent. These could be closed during really cold spells to assure that nothing freezes, but having some air movement keeps the space fresh and allows off-gassing of the produce to occur without harm. Apples will give off ethylene gas which can cause potatoes to sprout prematurely and make carrots go bitter, so store the apples near the outlet vent.

If you keep a thermometer/humidity gauge in the root cellar you can monitor the space for optimal conditions, and make adjustments as needed for what you are storing.

Vegetables that like to be cold and very moist (32-40 degrees F., 90-95% humidity) include: carrots, beets, celery, Chinese cabbage, kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts, rutabagas, turnips, collards, broccoli and Jerusalem artichokes. Produce that likes to be kept cold and fairly moist (32-40 degrees F., 80-90% humidity) include: potatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, apples, grapes, oranges, pears and grapefruit.

Produce that likes to be kept cool and fairly moist (40-45 degrees F., 85-90% humidity) include: cucumbers, sweet peppers, cantaloupe, watermelon, eggplant and ripe tomatoes. Vegetables that prefer cool and dry conditions (35-40 degrees F., 60-70% humidity) include garlic and onions. Produce that likes to be stored in fairly warm, dry conditions (50-60 degrees F., 60-70% humidity) include: dry hot peppers, pumpkins, winter squash, sweet potatoes and green tomatoes.

Unless you have an abundance of the produce mentioned above, a root cellar may not be so useful for you. On the other hand, a cool pantry would be useful for almost anybody. We built one as an extension of our house and would now feel deprived without it. We decided to make a rather large one (about 100 square feet), and I'm really glad we did. This allows us to keep lots of staples on hand, which diminishes our need to make that trip out to stock up on food, and it's a great feeling to know that we could survive all manner of problems and help our neighbors as well.
Our pantry is situated right next to our kitchen, which makes it especially useful. Most food items will last much longer if kept cool and dry, so we have grains, beans, nuts, dried produce, dry milk, canned goods, pet food, wine, etc., much of it in 5-gallon containers.

There is lots of room in there to store empty bottles and miscellaneous kitchen wares that we don't need frequently. We don't have a separate root cellar, so we also store fruit, potatoes, garlic and onions, yams and squash in there. These items definitely last much longer than they would at room temperature in our kitchen.

This pantry is dug about five feet into the ground on the north side of our house. It is semi-circular in shape, with sloping walls made of polypropylene bags filled with sand at the lower level and crushed volcanic rock above that.

The conical roof is partially supported with a pole framework because the pitch is too shallow for the bags to be self-supporting. The whole thing is just covered with several layers of plastic sheeting and then covered entirely with dirt. There is an inlet air vent on one side and an outlet vent at the very top. The floor is adobe poured over plastic sheeting, so the atmosphere is fairly dry. After quite a few afternoon rains, the humidity in there is only 64%. It has never leaked. The temperature ranges from a low of about 36 degrees F. (in the dead of winter) to a high of about 65 degrees F. in the heat of the summer. If it were dug deeper into the ground this spread would be less.

Another interesting approach to building a pantry is to bury a section of a large culvert pipe. One man took an eight feet diameter by fifty feet long culvert, welded the ends closed, and created a hatch for entry. The air vents and entry were camouflaged, so he had a secret hideaway/storage unit. This same concept could provide a completely buried pantry that is accessible from inside a house.

Many house designs would not easily accommodate a buried pantry. Another strategy for keeping a room cool is to locate it on the north side of the house, and have substantial air vents that are opened only at night during the warmer seasons. This requires a little more attention to maintain a cool temperature, but makes it possible to retrofit an existing house with a nice cool pantry. The room should be well insulated to keep it from warming up too much during the day.
The idea of having a large cool storage room next to the kitchen makes so much sense to me that I think all houses should be designed this way.

This facility uses no energy to keep things cool and promotes a lifestyle of fewer miles driven, along with a feeling of abundance and security. What a winning combination!
Thirteen Principles of Sustainable Architecture
by Kelly Hart

( Taken from website:

As “consumers” we are frequently confronted with life style decisions that can impact our environment. There are a few choices in this life that can make a big difference in what the quality of life will be for those who follow us. Going with the flow of our culture is hard to avoid, and unfortunately the flow is not in the right direction for evolving a sustainable future.
One of the most momentous choices that any of us will make is the kind of house we live in. I have come up with a list of thirteen principles of sustainable architecture that can guide you in your housing choices.

Small is beautiful. The trend lately has been toward huge mansion-style houses. While these might fit the egos of those who purchase them, they don't fit with a sustainable life style. Large houses generally use a tremendous amount of energy to heat and cool. This energy usually comes from the combustion of fossil fuels, depleting these resources and emitting greenhouse gases and pollutants into the air. Also, the larger the house, the more materials go into its construction; materials which may have their own environmental consequences. A home should be just the right size for its occupants and their activities. My wife and I (and our two dogs) have happily lived in a forty foot bus for the last four years. The key to this is efficient use of space, good organization, and keeping possessions to a manageable level. We do look forward to spreading out some in the passive solar, earthbag home we are building.

Heat with the sun. Nothing can be more comfortable for body and mind than living in a good solar-heated house. I say “good”, because proper design is crucial to the comfort of such a house. You may have gone into a solar house and felt stifled by the glaring heat, or perhaps you shivered from the lack of it. Good passive solar design will provide just enough sunlight into the rooms to be absorbed by the surrounding thermal mass (usually masonry materials), so that the heat will be given back into the room when the sun goes down. The thermal mass is a kind of “heat battery” that stores the warmth, absorbing it to keep the room from getting too hot during the day. Equally important to thermal mass is insulation (such as straw bales or crushed volcanic rock) that will keep that heat inside. Thermal mass materials need to be insulated from the outside, or else they will just bleed that warmth right back out. A rock house might have tons of mass, but be uncomfortably cold because of this energy bleed. So a good solar design will utilize materials of the right type in the right places, blending thermal dynamics with utilitarian design. There is much more to be said about solar design, and there are many good books on the topic.

Keep your cool. As I suggested above, a well designed solar house is both warm when you want it, and cool when you want it; that is to say, the temperature tends to stay fairly even. A good way to keep your cool is to dig into the earth. If you dig about six feet into the earth, you will find that the temperature there varies by only a few degrees year round. While this temperature (about 50-55 degrees F.) might be too cool for general living comfort, you can use the stability of the earth's temperature to moderate the thermal fluctuations of the house. If you dig into a south-facing hillside to build, or berm the north part of the house with soil, you can take advantage of this. The part of the house that is under ground needs to be well insulated, or the earth will continually suck warmth out of the house.

Let nature cool your food. In the old days people relied on pantries and root cellars to help keep produce and other provisions fresh. Ice boxes made way for refrigerators, which are obviously much more convenient, but somehow the use of cool pantries and root cellars also fell by the wayside. This is too bad because these spaces have functions that a refrigerator simply can't replace. Root cellars can store large quantities of produce from the time of harvest until the next summer. Cool pantries can store some produce, but also all manner of other foodstuffs and kitchen supplies can be kept there. Cool, dry storage is the best way to preserve most food. The cool of the earth can keep a totally bermed pantry or root cellar cool; the night air can also be used to cool a storage room. The convenience and security of having ample provisions at your finger tips can not be beat.

Be energy efficient. There are many ways to conserve the use of fossil fuel. Using the sun, wind, or water to produce electricity is one. If you choose to do this, you will be forced to be careful in the way you use your electricity because it is limited. Whether you get your electricity from alternative sources or from the grid, it pays to choose energy efficient appliances. Front-loading clothes washers, for instance, use much less electricity, water and soap than the top-loaders. Compact florescent lights use about a third of the electricity of standard bulbs. Many appliances use electricity by just being plugged in (known as phantom load); be sure to avoid this.
Conserve water. The average person in the U. S. uses between 100 and 250 gallons of water a day. I know it is possible to get by just fine on one tenth that amount. The use of low water capacity toilets, flow restrictors at shower heads and faucet aerators are fairly common now. More radical conservation approaches include diverting gray water from bathing, clothes washing and bathroom sinks to watering plants; catching rain water from roofs and paved areas for domestic use and switching to composting toilets. These can be very effective and safe means of water conservation if done carefully to avoid bacterial infestation. Landscaping with drought tolerant, indigenous plants can save an enormous amount of water.

Use local materials. There are several benefits to using local, indigenous materials. For one, they naturally fit into the “feeling” of the place. For another, they don't burn as much fossil fuel to transport them, and they are likely to be less processed by industry. An example of building materials found in our corner of Colorado would be rocks, sand, adobe and scoria (crushed volcanic rock).

Use natural materials. Again, naturally occurring materials often “feel” better to live with. When you step onto an adobe floor, for instance, you feel the resilient mother earth beneath your feet. A major reason for choosing natural materials over industrial ones is that the pollution often associated with their manufacture is minimized. For every ton of portland cement that is manufactured, an equal amount of carbon dioxide is released into the air. And then there is the matter of your health; natural materials are much less likely to adversely affect your health.
Save the forests. Having lived for many years in the Pacific Northwest, I can attest to the appalling degradation of national and private forests. While wood is ostensibly a renewable resource, we have gone way beyond sustainable harvesting and have ruined enormous ecosystems. Use wood as decoration. Cull dead trees for structural supports. Use masonry, straw bales, papercrete, cob, adobe, rocks, bags of volcanic rock, etc., instead of wood. Unfortunately it is difficult to get away from lumber in making a roof, so consider making a dome from materials that can be stacked. Domes are also more energy efficient and use less materials for the same space as a box. A conventional straw bale house only diminishes the amount of wood used by about 15%!

Recycle materials. If the materials already exist, you might as well use them, because by doing so you are not promoting the creation of more of them. You might also be keeping them out of the landfill, or keeping them from being transported for further processing. Wood that is kept dry does not degrade much, nor does glass. All kinds of things can be used in a house. We're using old metal wagon wheels to support the window openings in our earthbag home.
Build to last. There is an attitude in this throw-away society that an old house might as well be replaced by a new one.

Unfortunately this is often true, because of shoddy construction or poor choice of materials, or lack of maintenance. A well made house can last for centuries, and it should. Moisture getting into a building can lead to ruin, and it is hard to avoid this, whether from the outside environment or from condensation from within. For this reason I am partial to the use of materials that are not degraded by moisture.

Grow your food. Why not ask your house to help nourish you? With all of that south-facing glass, you might as well devote some of it to a greenhouse.

Herbs and salad greens can be grown year round. What a pleasure! Share Facilities. A basic tenet of sustainability is to share what you have with others. Doing this can diminish the need for unnecessary duplication of facilities.

In this way a group of people can not only have fewer tools or appliances or functional areas, but at the same time they can have available a greater variety of these facilities.

This benefits both the environment (through less industrial activity) and the individual (by providing more options for living.)

Yestermorrow Design/Build School

Yestermorrow Design/Build School
Since 1980, Yestermorrow has been one of the only design/build schools in the country, teaching both design and construction skills. Specializing in residential design, ecologically-sound construction, fine woodworking and architectural craft, our 1-day to 2-week hands-on courses are taught by top architects, builders, and craftspeople from across the country. For people of all ages and experience levels, from novice to professional.
For more information go to:

Most of the classes and workshops are taught in Warren, Vermont,
and include:
Home Design/Build
Basic Carpentry
Traditional Timberframing
Modern Timberframing
Inspired Interiors Workshop
Do-It-Yourself Home Repair
Igloo Design/Build
Historic Houses
Feng Shui
Treehouse Workshop
101Landscape Design
Green RemodelingSite
DesignWorking with a Design Professional
Drafting 101Codes,
Costs and Contracts
Designing in the Midst of BuildingDesign For BuildersNatural Building in Costa RicaPermaculture
Design CertificationPermaculture
Permaculture Design
PracticumStraw Bale Design
/BuildStone, Metal,
Glass & Wood
Community Building through Design
/BuildThe Tree Studio
Introduction to Cob Building
Light and Wellness
Designing Solar Energy Systems
Designing High Performance Commercial Buildings
Math Skills for Design and Layout
Biofuels WorkshopDeconstruction and Materials
And lots more classes...check out the website for more information!

News about upcoming workshops

For those of you that may be interested in upcoming workshops to learn more about alternative building techniques:

BASIC PLASTERS/FLOORS with Bernhard Masterson Whidbey Island, WA July 21-23Ancient Earth School of Natural BuildingThis workshop will explore the versatility and application of earthen plasters. We will be doing interior and exterior plasters, window and door detail work, bah relief, and fresco applications. This is your chance to get really muddy and learn plastering techniques that you can use with your own building projects. We will be plastering over a number of different materials, including light straw clay, earth bags, and wood. Workshop begins Friday at 4pm. Bring a dish to share for dinner. Lunch provided Saturday & Sunday.
More information available at
self-build solar hot water July 21-23, Dec. 1-3 Low-impact living initiativeRedfield Community, a Victorian mansion in 18 acres just outside Winslow, Buckinghamshire, England
We think that this is the best value for money solar hot water system that you'll find in the UK. Participants will leave with their entire system, tailored to their needs, plus a manual explaining how the system works, and how to install it. Participants can then install themselves, or they can ask a professional installer to install for them. It is also possible to attend the course without purchasing a system.
cost-effectiveness of solar hot water
Solar hot water is the most cost-effective renewable energy technology that you can install in this country. Panels can be located on a pitch roof, in a frame on a flat roof, or on the ground. Ideally, in the UK they would face south, at an angle of 35° from the horizontal, but they can face south-east or south-west, or at any angle from 15-55°, with a loss in efficiency of less than 5%. In other words, there are millions of roofs in the UK which are ideal for solar hot water.
our system
Our system is constructed using the highest quality materials. The collectors are the flat-plate type, and the system is indirect (i.e. pipes from the panels are connected to a coil in your hot water cylinder). The system includes:
2 panels, each panel 1.3m², 27kg; you will need an area 2m x 2m on your roof
150-litre vented twin-coil cylinder, dimensions (inc. insulation) 1350mm tall x 500mm diameter
self-assembled pump & control set, expansion vessel set and air separator
everything else you will need to install and run your system, including screws, washers, fittings, and high-temperature pipe insulation!
Please note: this system is not for you if you have a mains pressure hot water cylinder or a combi boiler.
the course
The course begins with a theory session explaining solar water heating and our system in detail. You will then build and pressure test your own pump & control set, expansion vessel kit and air separator. No plumbing experience is needed - this will build confidence in cutting and soldering copper, using expansion joints and fixing leaks. There are more sessions on installing and maintaining your system, including fixing the panels to your roof, and how to replace a cylinder. There will also be plenty of opportunities to ask specific questions. At the end of the course you will leave with your entire system - if you have a vehicle large enough that is! Otherwise it may require two journeys, or you may need to pay for a courier. No specialist skills are needed to take part in this course.
Visit for more information.
Cob construction!
Weekend course: Dates - July 22 - 23, 9am - 5pm Location - MELC, 4651 Bear Canyon Road, Willits CA. 95490, please contact us for maps and directions... Instructors - Cassandra Lasdin, M.A. (Natural Builder and water specialist), Maximillian Meyers (Certified Permaculture Teacher, Ecological Designer) and special guests Cost - Free (donations accepted). We supply tools, materials, experience and Organic meals. What to bring - Camping gear, appropriate clothes, shoes and/or boots for work related activities, gloves, notebooks, camera, musical instruments, songs, etc. Accommodations - Camping! Please bring a tent (we can supply a limited number of tents if necessary), sleeping and personal hygiene supplies (sleeping bag, pillow, toothbrush, soap, etc.) What is Cob? - Cob is a mixture of clay, straw, sand and water. Variations of this recipe have been used for thousand of years in cultures around the world. Cob uses natural materials and has exceptional installation, strength and structural qualities.
The course - In this course we will learn the various mixtures and uses of Cob. The course will be hands-on learning combined with discussion and lectures about various Cob formulas, recipes, techniques and applications. Projects will include the construction of a Cob garden wall, and bench. We will provide participants with tips, practical advice, methods of sound construction and beautiful examples. Click here to register!

Comprehensive Cottage ConstructionJuly 22-29th White Oak Farm in the Williams Valley near Ashland, Oregon
In this workshop you will learn how to build a hybrid cob-strawbale structure. These eight days include all of the above workshop material plus the following . . . In addition to cob basics and practice, you will pour an earthen floor, build a cob oven, construct a straw bale wall, discuss passive solar energy design principles, and tour a finished naturally built home. Participants will also receive detailed instruction on naturally built small cottage construction from laying the foundation to application of a living roof. This extended workshop allows for a deeper sense of community, and the opportunity to sink into the beautiful Williams Valley (an afternoon off is scheduled mid week).
$560 (Workshop begins on the 22nd at 9 a.m., feel free to check-in any time after 5 p.m. on the 21st. Workshops ends at 4 p.m. on the 29th) sign up
natural paints & lime August 11-13 Low-impact living initiativeRedfield Community, a Victorian mansion in 18 acres just outside Winslow, Buckinghamshire, England
How to maintain your property combining the best of traditional and modern techniques and materials to ensure long-lasting protection, and at the same time safeguard your health and the health of the environment. Includes theory on the environmental effects of paints, lime and cements, and practical sessions on using various paints and finishes, lime washing, rendering and slaking lime. Plenty of opportunities to discuss your projects.
The course is run by Dave (LILI) and Phil Brown of the Cornish Lime Company
healthy buildings: petrochemical paints, cements, gypsum, mastics v. natural paints & finishes, lime, linseed oil putty
the impact on your personal health and on the wider environment of your choice of paints / plasters etc.
what is paint; why do we use it; a brief history of paint
different types of natural paints: ingredients and suitable applications
off-the-shelf eco-paints: suppliers, prices, benefits
what is lime; different types for different uses; environmental benefits
history of the use of lime and cements
colouring casein and eco-emulsion paints with natural pigments; using casein paints on walls and woodwork
slaking lime
making and using lime washes, renders and mortars
why natural paints & lime are good for your building
health and safety
Visit for more information.
rammed earth building August 18-20 Low-impact living initiativeRedfield Community, a Victorian mansion in 18 acres just outside Winslow, Buckinghamshire, England
Build you own low impact dwelling from of cheap, sustainable, easily available materials; high- or low-tech solutions.
what is rammed earth - some background information
why build with earth - what are the benefits?
finding the right earth
choosing a formwork system
different construction methods
design detailing from damp proof course to roof plate
tools; what to use; how to use them; maintenance and safe handling
some different design approaches
build wall sections including corners
build an arch
build in electrical services
T he course will be led by Rowland Keable of rammed-earth building company In Situ
Visit for more information.

Sol - Fest 2006 -Solar Living Festival! August 19 - 20, 2006 10 AM - 7 PM Saturday -- 10 AM - 6:30 PM Sunday Solar Living Center - Hopland, CA See link below for details and tickets... 928-541-1002

Rammed Earth School Features Workshops
Builders, designers and homeowners can now take rammed earth courses from a new Canadian company called SIREwall Inc. Rammed earth builders and designers teach the courses in an earth-wall studio on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia.
SIREwall stands for stabilized, insulated rammed earth. It’s a modern, building-code approved version of an ancient technology. The earth walls are 18 inches thick and have a natural, sandstone-like finish.
SIREwall founder, Meror Krayenhoff, is the world expert on insulated rammed earth. His custom earth-wall homes have won 23 gold Canadian Home Builders Association awards. “The top three things that attract people to insulated rammed earth are energy efficiency, durability and the natural look,” said Krayenhoff.
SIREwall offers eight different rammed earth courses with 32 schedule options. Course selections vary from a two-day introduction to rammed earth for homeowners to a month-long SIREwall Builder’s Training for general contractors. Courses for architects and designers are accredited through the Architectural Institute of British Columbia. For information on SIREwall courses go to

Workshops for Sustainable Architecture

SUSTAINABLE ARCHITECTURE non-profit devoted to sustainable archtecture around the world. a nonprofit promoting sustainable solutions through competitions, workshops, educational forums, and partnerships with aid organizations. Sustainable Building Industries Council has design software, books, conducts workshops...a membership organization. U. S. Green Building Council provides a green building rating system with training to implement it. specializes in workshops on Natural Building, Design and Appropriate Technology. lists workshops conducted around the world relating to all aspects of natural building. Ancient Earth School of Natural Building in Washington State offers many workshops as well as an Apprenticeship Program. The ECOSA Institute offers summer workshops of one month each. The first workshop teaches methods and materials used in sustainable construction, and provides academic and hands on experience in sustainable design and construction. The Medocino Ecological Learning Center sponsors workshops on many aspect of living sustainably.

Women's Collective for Alternative Building

Here is a Wonderful site for a women's collective that also offers workshops: It is located here in Canada!

Stabilized Insulated Rammed Earth

Here is a GREAT website that offers courses and other good information, and it is a CANADIAN COMPANY!

They offer an introduction course:

Rammed Earth Introduction
Rammed Earth Introduction is a two-day course designed to introduce particpants to the main aspects of rammed earth.
This Course offers:
Knowledge - facts right from a rammed earth builder about indoor air quality, building health issues, soil and site analysis and rammed earth basics.
Confidence - information you need to make decisions about your building project that reflects your values. The ability to talk knowledgeably about rammed earth. Enough savvy about rammed earth design to begin preliminary project planning.
Comfort - direct experience with ramming earth samples and touring rammed earth buildings. Answers to all your questions by rammed earth builder, Meror Krayenhoff.
Fun - connections with like-minded people and the environmental building world,the chance to get your hands dirty and to discover what makes Salt Spring Island so famous.
Who Qualifies:
This course is for homeowners, builders, designers, architects, engineers, artists, investors, building inspectors and anyone else interested in rammed earth.
Note: Each workshop will vary slightly, depending on the stage of construction of current rammed earth projects and the homes available for us to tour.
Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada [View Map]
Meror Krayenhoff, head of SIREwall Inc. and Terra Firma Builders Ltd.
Class Size:
Minimum 10 particpants, maxium 20.
What's included:
All course instruction and materials plus snacks and one evening meal, as well as transportation to rammed earth house tours.
What's not included:
Accommodations, breakfasts, lunches or transportation to the SIREwall Workshop.
Here's what past participants said they liked best:
"The opportunity to see the completed and in-progress houses and the chance to ask questions, especially as the technology is new to me."
- Pete Remmer
"I feel like I just took a huge step as a 'green architect'"
- North Carolina architect, Charles Brown
"The large amount of valuable information provided in a relaxed and personal atmosphere."
- Don Jennings
Interest and Enthusiasm

Class Dates

Sat, Aug 19 -Sun, Aug 20
$ 390.00 + $ 27.30 GST = $ 417.30Couples $ 300.00 + $ 21.00 GST = $ 321.00
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Sat, Sep 23 -Sun, Sep 24
$ 390.00 + $ 27.30 GST = $ 417.30Couples $ 300.00 + $ 21.00 GST = $ 321.00
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Sat, Oct 14 -Sun, Oct 15
$ 390.00 + $ 27.30 GST = $ 417.30Couples $ 300.00 + $ 21.00 GST = $ 321.00
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Sat, Feb 03 -Sun, Feb 04
$ 390.00 + $ 27.30 GST = $ 417.30Couples $ 300.00 + $ 21.00 GST = $ 321.00
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Sat, Mar 03 -Sun, Mar 04
$ 390.00 + $ 27.30 GST = $ 417.30Couples $ 300.00 + $ 21.00 GST = $ 321.00
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Sat, Apr 28 -Sun, Apr 29
$ 390.00 + $ 27.30 GST = $ 417.30Couples $ 300.00 + $ 21.00 GST = $ 321.00
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Sat, Jun 02 -Sun, Jun 03
$ 390.00 + $ 27.30 GST = $ 417.30Couples $ 300.00 + $ 21.00 GST = $ 321.00
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Sat, Jul 28 -Sun, Jul 29
$ 390.00 + $ 27.30 GST = $ 417.30Couples $ 300.00 + $ 21.00 GST = $ 321.00
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Sat, Sep 08 -Sun, Sep 09
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Sat, Oct 20 -Sun, Oct 21
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Copyright 2005, 2006 SIREwall Inc., All rights reserved. SIREwall Inc.212 Cusheon Lake RoadSalt Spring Island BC V8K 2B9, Canada250-537-9355 Fax 250-537-9361
Email Us

Geiger Research Institute of Sustainable Building

Here is the link for Geiger Research Institute of Sustainable Building :

(This looks like an interesting site that also offers educational workshops and certification programs)

The Geiger Research Institute of Sustainable Building is an international training and research institute devoted to finding solutions to the world's housing problems through sustainable building.
We believe the answer lies in education - helping others help themselves.Mission:We are striving to improve the world by encouraging sustainable housing and sustainable living practices.
Our mission is primarily educational - to spread awareness of sustainable and attainable solutions through research and training.
The projects at the Institute address affordability, sustainability, attainability and appropriateness for those who lack financial or material resources.
We believe that housing is a human right, as determined by the United Nations, and that affordable housing for all can only be obtained by sustainable solutions.
The Institute works with individuals, organizations and communities who are most in need and who often do not have access to appropriate education in sustainable living.
The Geiger Research Institute of Sustainable Building seeks to promote several concepts:
• Address the root cause of many economic problems such as poverty, affordable housing and development through education and self sufficiency to alleviate world suffering;
• Focus on sustainable building techniques and projects with an emphasis on cost, availability and suitability of materials;
• Promote stewardship of the earth's resources by providing educational materials, workshops, training and certification programs in sustainable building;
• Concentrate on sharing knowledge with populations in need of affordable housing on a world-wide basis

Founder and Director of the Geiger Research Institute of Sustainable Building:Dr. Owen Geiger, Ph.D. in Social and Economic Development, is the former Director of Builders Without Borders and current member of the BWB Steering Committee.
He is an author and engineer specializing in sustainable building. He co-authored the Builders Without Borders Straw-Bale Construction Guides and contributed to Building Without Borders: Sustainable Construction for the Global Village.
Dr. Geiger has consulted on numerous international housing projects, worked closely with Habitat for Humanity for seven years and mentored housing officials with the United Nations Institute of Training and Research.
His background includes years of experience as a licensed contractor building, training employees and volunteers, and overseeing dozens of projects.Recently he has become a correspondent for The Last Straw Journal and an Expert Advisor for A new partnership with the US Military Academy at West Point has the potential to spread sustainable building to unprecedented levels.Dr. Owen Geiger

Renewable Energy Workshops

Here are some links to some Renewable Energy Workshops:

RENEWABLE ENERGY Solar Energy International on-line courses. information about the book, forums, workshops, etc. lists workshops from around the world related to renewable energy

Permaculture Workshops

Here are some links to some sites that offer workshops on Permaculture:

PERMACULTURE promotes workshops, sells plans, and provides information about graywater reuse, rainwater havesting, and compost toilets. The Wilder Institute was created to promote and support permaculture education and design around the world.
Permaculture Institute of Northern California discusses of what permaculture is all about and presents lots of workshops. list workshops from around the world related to water conservation and permaculture. The ECOSA Institute offers summer workshops of one month each. One of these teaches Permaculture and water management, and provides academic and hands on experience in sustainable design and construction


LINKS TO INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER LEARNING ECOSA Institute offers a 3 month immersion program in Ecological Design/Architecture that may be worth up to 15 credit hours with an articulation agreement between schools. Eco Versity a highly qualified faculty teaches courses on a wide range of topics related to sustainable architecture. Northern New Mexico Community College at their El Rito Campus has a program of education about adobe constuction. The Geiger Research Institue of Sustainable Building features workshops and a strawbale certification program. Ball State Universtiy in Muncie, Indiana, offers architectural degrees with some studies in environmental systems. Auburn University School of Architecture offers a Bachelor of Envirnmental Design, and includes the Rural Studio The Universtiy of Arizona has a five year program leading to a Bachelor of Architecture, with a strong emphasis on energy conservation. the Energy & Climate concentration website of the MS Building Design course at School of Architecture, Arizona State University California Polytechnic State University College of Architecture and Environmental Design, San Luis Opispo California Polytechnic State University College of Environmental Design, Pomona Sonoma State University Department of Environmental San Francisco Institute of Architecture: A new kind of school for Architecture and Ecological Design
ced.berkeley.eduUniversity of California, Berkeley, College of Environmental Design
newcollege.ed New College of California for a just, sacred and sustainable world University of South Florida School of Architecture and Community Design Kansas State University College of Architecture Planning and Design Boston Architectural Center College of Architecture MIT School of Architecture Wentworth Institute of Technology University of Minnesota Department of Architecture Washington Univertsity in St. Louis, School of Architecture Montana State University School of Architecture University of Nevada Los Vegas School of Architecture Columbia University SIPA Ph.D. in Sustainable Development Architecture Rensselaer North Carolina State University Scool of Architecture University of North Carolina College of Architecture Kent State University College of Architecture and Environmental Design University of Oregon Department of Architecture Texas A&M University College of Architecture University of Texasat Austin School of Architecture, Sustainable Design! Virginia Tech College of Architecture & Urban Studies University of Virginia School of Architecture University of Newcastle in Australia, Environmentally Sustainable Design Fleming is the first college in Canada to offer an intensive program in sustainable building.

Green Building Events and Workshops

Here is a Wonderful link to some hands on learning events that will help you gain more knowledge of Green Building :

Please check it out as it has some great workshops coming up in the near future!!!!

Earthbag Building

Building with earthbags (sometimes called sandbags) is both old and new. Sandbags have long been used, particularly by the military for creating strong, protective barriers, or for flood control. The same reasons that make them useful for these applications carry over to creating housing: the walls are massive and substantial, they resist all kinds of severe weather (or even bullets and bombs), and they can be erected simply and quickly with readily available components. Burlap bags were traditionally used for this purpose, and they work fine until they eventually rot. Newer polypropylene bags have superior strength and durability, as long as they are kept away from too much sunlight. For permanent housing the bags should be covered with some kind of plaster for protection.

Taken from website:

Here are some links for Earthbag Building:

Earthship Buildings

What is an Earthship?
An Earthship is a passive solar building with thermal mass. It is made from natural and recycled materials, including earth-rammed tyres and aluminium cans. It is powered by renewable energy, such as wind, water and solar power, catches its own water supply from rainwater, and treats and contains its own sewage in planter beds. It is a concept, not a set design, and can be adapted for any climate worldwide. It offers people the opportunity to build their own homes and make a conscious decision to live lightly on the earth.
Taken from website:

Here are some links for Earthship Building:

Straw Bale Building

What is Straw Bale Building?
Straw bale building was first used by the settlers of the sandhills region of Nebraska, who arrived in an area devoid of the traditional building materials. By using the "blocks" of compressed straw they were producing in their fields as large building blocks, they were able to create shelters for themselves and their animals that were warm, durable and straightforward to construct.

In the 1980s this building method, long forgotten, was "rediscovered" by people searching for affordable and environmentally responsible building materials, and in short order hundreds of straw bale buildings were constructed in the American southwest. Spreading from its new home in Arizona and New Mexico, straw bale building became a world-wide movement by the early 1990s, with structures being built in quantity on every continent.

Starting with straw
Straw bale building has at its heart the humble bale of straw. Straw is the stalk portion of seed and grain crops (including wheat, oats, barely, rye, rice and hemp). Once the seed head has been harvested from the plant, the dead and dry stalks are cut and baled. While bale sizes can vary, the bales themselves share the qualities that makes them ideal for building: good thermal insulation properties, wide availability, low cost, annual renewability, convenient size for handling and sculptability.

Making a building with bales
By stacking straw bales like over-sized concrete blocks or bricks and then plastering (or parging) onto the straw on the inside and outside faces, a wall of exception strength, beauty and thermal insulation is created. In Ontario, over 100 straw bale buildings have been constructed since the mid-90s, including many homes and cottages as well as agricultural, industrial and commercial structures.

Lots of good reasons
The appeals of straw bale building are many and varied.
The energy-saving performance is high among these. Studies by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (PDF) have shown that bale homes typically use 25-40% less heating and cooling energy than their frame-walled equivalents. Warmer in winter and cooler in summer, without the high energy price tag and high CO2 emmissions!

Straw bales are a low environmental impact material. The RS Means Green Building: Project Planning and Cost Estimating guidebook gives straw bales an embodied energy rating of just 0.24 MJ/kg. This compares very favourably to other manufactured insulations like fibreglass (30.3) and expanded polystyrene (117)

Not only does straw keep you warm, it uses a fraction of the world's valuable resources and energy to do so! Straw is already produced in sufficient quantity to provide for all of North America's housing needs, so there is no need for new farmland or significant new practices.
Straw bale walls are easily understood. Many people wish to have a hand in building their own homes, for reasons of both cost and personal satisfaction. Straw bale building concepts are simple to understand and put into practice. Many hands-on workshops and volunteer opportunities exist to help owners and builders learn the basics, and a bale raising is a fun and satisfying event.

Straw bale walls are highly adaptable. Unlike other great "alternative" technologies, straw bale walls are simply intergrated into modern construction practices. While the buildings can be highly unique in design, the walls are easily adapted to all kinds of conventional foundation and roof building methods, and accept standard windows and doors. This makes it more straightforward to "go green".

Straw bale walls are beautiful. Because they are thick and sculptable, the walls lend themselves to the creation of unique and personal spaces. Rounded window openings, carved niches, wide window sills, built-in window seats and a finished look that can range from smooth, square and shiny to wildly curvy and textured, bale walls allow owners an inexpensive way to get creative with their space.

The cost is no higher than conventional construction. In fact, the materials themselves (straw and plaster) are very low-cost, so owner/builders can save up to 50% of their wall costs. But even built by professionals, you can expect to pay no more for bale walls than for standard wood framed walls, but you'll be getting more than twice the insulation value and great aesthetic potential. And savings in energy costs will stay with you for the life of the building.
Many other advantages, from terrific fire ratings (good enough to be used as a fire wall in an industrial building!) to excellent sound insulation to a positive impact on local farming economies all make bale building a choice that's hard to beat.

Taken from the website:

Here are some links to some Straw Bale Sites:

Building with Cob

Cob is an ancient earth building technique which uses a combination of earth, straw, sand and water. These ingredients can be mixed together by hand, using tarps, or by machinery. The mix is formed into lumps or "cobs" which are pressed together to form the walls of a building, rather like building a giant clay pot...

When left to dry the cob sets to become extremely hard and durable, although in wet areas like Britain cob walls need protection from driving rain which will eventually erode them. There are thousands of cob houses still inhabited in England today mainly in Devon and Cornwall. It is estimated that 30% of the world's population live in earthen homes.

A simple technique to learn, safe, non toxic and lots of fun to build with, you can use cob to create almost any structure - from the simple to the fantastic. Cob structures can be finished using different mixes of the same materials, to produce beautiful paints, plasters, floors and sculptural features.

Cob building uses the world's most abundant and sustainable building materials, has very low embodied energy, and its cost is minimal. Virtually all the materials used in the cob building process are bio degradable or can be recycled, making it one of the most environmentally friendly ways of building.

Why build with earth?

Save - A third of the world's land mass is suitable for building with earth which means the majority of the building material can be found on or near the site. This reduces the cost of transporting and processing the bulk of materials used in construction. It also saves exploiting new resources by incorporating recycled materials into the design. Cob is load bearing and needs no framework. A house made of earth typically uses 60% less lumber than a stud frame building.

Increase - By careful consideration of the site, passive solar design and the integration of indoor and outdoor spaces, cob building increases the awareness of natural systems, our impact on them and how we can build in balance with these systems.

Reduce - Cob building reduces the need for specialist skilled labour and expensive equipment. The construction techniques we use are easy to learn and reduces the amount of money required to build structures. Typically in America a house might cost $200,000. but with these techniques people have built their own homes for less than £1000. The flexibility and fluidity of cob building allows for curvilinear shapes which enclose space most efficiently reducing the size of building required.

Improve - Cob building improves the quality of the environment, the materials used for building as well as finishes such as paints and plasters are non-toxic and non-polluting. The importance of sustainable building Modern building methods are environmentally destructive and their impact on our environment is huge. The extraction, processing and transport of materials, the energy involved in their construction, maintaining the environments within them and the problems of recycling/disposal when they are destroyed creates a massive drain on our resources, pollutes our air and water and is ultimately unsustainable.

Buildings can isolate and dislocate us from the natural systems with which we are interdependent or they can empower and educate us to achieve an harmonious balanced relationship within these systems.

Therefore if we as a culture wish to address with any credibility issues of waste reduction, consumption and sustainability we must develop a built environment which reflects and promotes these aims.

Sustainable building technologies, a glossary of terms Cob - a traditional mixture of earth, sand, straw and water mixed by hand or machinery. Formed into lumps and pressed together to form the walls of a building, rather like building a giant clay pot. Cob structures are load bearing. Excellent thermal mass which is necessary for passive solar design. Adobe - a mixture of earth, sand straw and water mixed by hand or machinery, formed into bricks which are then left to dry out in the sun.

These are used in a similar way as conventional fired bricks to build walls. Adobe is load bearing. Wattle and Daub - A woven willow or hazel framework (Wattle) is then daubed with a Daub plaster mixture of earth and dung and sometimes horse hair. Used as infill in a timber framed building.

Straw bale - Can be used as an infill to timber frame structures, straw bales are used as an very effective insulator. They can be load bearing if they are pretensioned. Bale walls are then sealed with a earthern or lime plaster.

Timber - Uses large diameter/section timber posts and beams to form a framework of a frame building. The gaps between the timbers require another building material to infill the walls.

Pise de terre - A form of cob building Light straw - Shuttering is created to ram straw dipped in a clay slip as an infill to a timber clay frame structure. Very good insulator. Earthships - Using discarded tyres, earth is rammed into them, they are then bermed into a bank and daubed with a cement or lime plaster.

Rammed earth - wooden shuttering is created then a mixture of earth, sand and water sometimes stabilised with cement. The mixture is rammed between the shuttering often using hydraulic machinery. The forms are removed to leave load-bearing walls, sealed with an earthern or lime plaster.

Here are some links to some alternative Cob building sites: