Kenwood Press

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Straw bale building workshops

Are you considering building a “Green & Sustainable” home or structure in the future?

Using straw bales in the construction meets those requirements and has several advantages. Straw bales are highly insulating, thus reducing energy consumption while also creating a cozy and quiet living space. In Northern California, rice straw (which is a locally available and a renewable resource) is commonly used. Straw bale walls provide better fire resistance than conventional wood framing as well as thermal mass from the thick earth plaster inside and out. Most California soils contain clay, providing a local source for the earth plaster. Plus straw bale homes with all their rounded corners and thick walls are just beautiful.

CASBA, the California Straw Building Association, a non-profit organization that promotes the practice of straw building by exchanging current information, provides practical experience with yearly workshops. This year they are being held at a private estate in Glen Ellen and the structure will be a small post and beam one room cottage with straw bale infill walls.

“Introduction to Straw Bale Building” is a two-part series designed to provide hands-on experience to anyone, from professionals to home owners or enthusiasts who want to learn the basic skills of building with straw. The workshops are kept small to enhance the experience of completion during the learning process.

The first workshop (June 5, 6 and 7) is focused on bale raising with hands-on experience handling the straw bales. The workshop addresses issues from design and building codes to foundation systems, framing doors and windows, installing the roof and all other respective construction techniques related to straw bale building. The introductory class on June 5 is free and will be held at the Sonoma Community Center’s room 110, 276 E. Napa St., Sonoma, from 6 to 9 p.m.

The second workshop (Aug. 7, 8 and 9) is all about the finishes, both exterior and interior, focusing on earth plaster. Participants learn to prepare clay soils, make earth plasters, and how to apply it to the straw bales. The workshop includes information on preparing the walls for earth plaster as well as other types of finishes.

The fee for each workshop is $250 or $450 if you register for both workshops. Camping is available at the site and meals are provided.

For more information and registration please go to, or call 209-785-7077.

Community Calendar

Oakmont Farmers Market
Bill & Dave lead a leisurely hike at Sugarloaf
Hospice fundamentals
Big Heart dinner
GEK Rotary crab feed

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