Miguel Elliott’s cob birdhouse workshop was both educational and entertaining. He very clearly explained and demonstrated the steps. Miguel has found ways to make cobbing easier, such as making a sand mold in the dome shape you want, getting premixed loam and just adding straw and water, and lighting a fire in the damp shape after drying the outside in the sun and removing the sand, in order to dry the inside.
Of the books Miguel brought to share, one showed his bamboo and aviary wire form for a small home, meditation room or study, which looks like a great idea for using less cob and still having strength. He also designed innovative buttresses for larger structures, allowing them to have 10″ thick walls instead of 12″ to 24″ thick walls. Miguel also has a very good eye for design — both shape and color.
Miguel Elliot’s company is Living Earth Structures; do go to him if you need a natural building, oven, or other structure.
The workshop on fermenting cabbage (sauerkraut) and other vegetables by Veena West & Adelaja Simon of Canticle Farm was also highly informative. They made batches on the spot, shared samples, answered questions, told stories about how they learned, and recommended work by other people.
Veena and Adelaja focused on what matters, from sanitation to being in a peaceful mental state to why the veggies must be totally covered with liquid (lactic acid is anaerobic). The overall atmosphere was grounded, friendly, interesting, and fun.
Hayes Valley Farm is a delightful experience itself, and it looks like lots of people work hard making it so.
-article by Mark Roest