Here is your chance to learn about straw bale in  some great workshops coming up very soon that still have openings.

...(photo courtesy of Whole Tree Architecture and Construction)

Bear Paw Construction and Whole Trees Architecture and Construction are teaming up on the construction of a one-of-a-kind home – the Kara Woods Residence on the grounds of the Christine Center in Willard, WI.

..(drawings courtesy of Whole Trees Architecture and Construction)

This one-of-a-kind dwelling incorporates whole tree timber framing, straw bale infill, a living roof, and more.

There will be two, 3-day workshops July 30-August 1 and Aug 6-8.  These back-to-back workshops offer the opportunity to stay between for more time and experience.

These straw bale construction workshops will be led by Mark Morgan, an experienced natural builder and board member of the Midwest Renewable Energy Association.  I attended his lectures and demo/workshops at the Midwest Renewable Energy Fair last month and learned a ton!

“We can do so many different things with straw,” Mark told me on the phone Monday, “but this building will be a really unique opportunity and challenge.  This building has a whole tree frame, which presents some challenges.  That’s the best part of it.”

There are two types of straw bale:  load bearing, where you set the weight of the building on the bales, and non-loadbearing with a wooden frame bearing the load.  This building is a hybrid.

“It will have some of the complexitieis and features of the loadbearing in it, so you can learn about both types of building in one structure,” says Mark.  “We are also going to be doing both cement plasters on the outside and earthen plasters on the inside.”

..Mark demonstrating and the energy fair.

Mark will take participants through the whole process:

  • How to prep bales
  • What they sit on
  • How they connect to each other
  • How to install windows and doors
  • How to finish walls with plaster and stucco

Mark knows the nuts and bolts of alternative building, and his workshops will provide technical expertise as this amazing structure comes together.  But Mark also knows that good building projects are driven by “why” as much as “how.”  “Building involves the heart as well as the head,” says Mark.  “My beliefs on building really come through in my workshops.  Every day I bring my best and I ask everyone who participates to do the same.  I carry that forward.”

For  a sneak preview of Mark’s style, check out the DVD he has created called Building a Straw Bale Home: A Practical and Spiritual Guide.

The fee is $350 for each weekend.  For more info, contact The Midwest Renewable energy Association at or call 715-592-6595 x112

If you are thinking about alternative building techniques, a workshop like these is a great way to find out if this is the method for you.

2 replies

    • Thank you for your comment, Laura. I like your blog too. I love your title — What’s for Dinner, Mom.
      My daughters are out in the world now, but that question still echos around my kitchen, and is revived when they come home. Now it’s a food fest when ever we get together with what’s for dinner being a communal decision — which still hearkens back to the food values I shared with them when they used to ask What’s for dinner.
      Simple, everyday matters like that are what make up a life.

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