How did you discover strawbale building?
Roughly 6 years ago I moved to Canada to teach snowboarding in British Columbia. In the summer months I travelled around the country volunteering on farms. This led me to the tiny town of Dunster, BC. Dunster has a population of about 300 and the best sense of community I have ever experienced.
I saw my first straw bale house in Dunster, it was a wild self build, with very wobbly walls, clay sculptures in the plaster and a swing in the double height front room. I then got the opportunity to help out with a straw bale workshop being built in the town. I was instantly hooked.
So what happened next?
The next spring I signed myself up to a natural building course at Aprovecho in Oregon and continued to volunteer wherever I could to gain more experience.
From there I moved to Moab, Utah to be part of Community Rebuilds, a non-profit that builds straw bale homes for low income families. I did one house build as an intern and another build as a natural building instructor and site apprentice.
Last year I moved back to the UK, intent on becoming involved in straw bale building back at home. I got in contact with Straw Works and they suggested the School of Natural Building.
And what have you done so far within the traineeship?
So far with the school I have completed all the classroom elements and have taught on two of the courses. We are just beginning the practical sessions now as the weather warms up. Just yesterday I finished the car tyre foundations course, which was a fantastic learning opportunity. My previous experiences had only been with modern concrete foundations, which I won’t be returning to.
What would you say have been the highlights of the experience to date?
The highlights for me have been connecting with so many excited and interested people in the straw bale world and teaching in the classroom sessions.
What are your future natural building plans?
I am currently involved in setting up a natural building business, with two projects currently in planning permission. My other project is to revive the Straw Bale Building Association for Wales, Ireland, Scotland & England. You can see all these goings-on on my website: www.jeffreythenaturalbuilder.