Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Projects of 2010

Eco-Village Adventure

As you may have noticed, we took the year off from workshops to tackle some exciting projects.
From March though July we had a marvelous opportunity to work on some of the first natural buildings in a new eco-development in Amarillo, TX. Mariposa Eco-Village is selling lots in a development planned to have over 300 natural homes! Nothing like it has ever been built before. This new neighborhood is sited on a used up strip mine, making it a perfect site for regeneration through permaculture and natural building. Because all the top soil has already been removed from the site, we won’t be damaging anything by building on it. In addition, the site is virtual shopping mall for natural building materials like clay, sand, and gravel.
Our team of intrepid natural builders camped out on the high windy plains of Texas as we took on some unique natural building projects. First on the list was finishing a “Hospitality Center” built from giant compressed earth blocks. This building was one of the first ever built with this new Megablock technology. I got to meet the inventors of the Megablock machine and I think this has enormous potential for the future of natural building. You can see their website here
The Barefoot builder team got started in the Hospitality Center by installing a hydronically heated earthen floor.
The floor was too large to hand trowel in a single day, so we avoided seams by dividing it into tiles. I can’t wait to run with this idea by dividing a floor into more intricate patterns!
Once the floor was done, we moved on to plastering the center inside and out. In order to show off all the variety available with natural clay plasters, each wall was done in a different color.

The second project on the list was a weekend rental cottage intended to give potential home owners an idea of what it is live to live in a cob house. We designed and built the cottage using materials mostly from the abandoned mine. Using a Bobcat to mix, we were able to complete all the cob in under two weeks.

We battled outrageous winds, triple digit heat, and even a small tornado that removed several day's work when it lifted the newly framed roof off our cob guest house. In the evenings our crew enjoyed good times around the campfire telling exaggerated stories and eating yummy food. In the end we completed the walls and roof of a beautiful cob cottage which

we will plaster in the spring.

Finally, before heading on to west Virginia we took a little field trip to see some 3,000 year old earthen homes in the Taos Pueblo. What an inspiration!

Special thanks to the "Pit Crew": Whitney, Allen, John I., John II, Helena, Mike, David and to the many wonderful volunteers who turned up to help!

A Cob Retreat in West Virgina

We spent August in West Virginia building the first of several buildings in a little retreat. The house is nestled into the side of a hill on a beautiful mountain site. The house was designed by Kindra Welch ( and when finished will have a living roof disappearing into the hillside on the north. We used a Bobcat to mix and were able to complete the walls in just a week! We will be returning in the spring to plaster.
Many thanks to Whitney Owen, John Maiers, and Helena Sadavary, who were invaluable both in Texas and in West Virginia.


  1. where in wv? we live in fayetteville and are just starting to explore the idea of cob for our own home. We would love to see one in our own home state that's completed.

  2. can you email me a j p e n s e @ g M a i l . c o m please!!!