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Earthen Floor Workshop

September 8, 2021 - September 9, 2021


In this workshop you will learn to install a “poured adobe” earthen floor from start to finish from master natural builder Michael G. Smith. These floors are beautiful, durable, inexpensive, and health-enhancing. They are easy to maintain and feel great underfoot. Their thermal mass makes them an ideal component of a passive solar design. You can even incorporate hydronic heating! This technique is suitable for natural buildings such as straw bale and cob, but can also be used to “naturalize” your existing conventional home to make it more healthy, energy-efficient, beautiful, comfortable and fire safe.

Day one of the workshop will start with an analysis of several earthen floors on site, some of which were installed over 20 years ago, to determine what factors lead to long-term success. We will discuss the steps from raw ground to finished floor and practice mixing and installing the various layers on a small scale. On the second day, we will install the finish layer of earthen floor in the community house. All levels of experience are welcome.

The workshop will be held at Emerald Earth Sanctuary, an intentional community, educational hub and a model for alternative practices in the hills above Anderson Valley, traditional lands of the Tabuteh Pomo people. The land we call Emerald Earth is set on 189 acres of coniferous forest and oak woodland. Each year we offer a variety of scheduled tours, workshops, work parties, internship positions, and farm stays. Our purpose is to honor the sacredness of the Earth and the interconnectedness of all things, to celebrate the rhythms and cycles of the natural world, and to live in a creative and engaged community.

Instructor Michael G. Smith co-founded the Cob Cottage Company, along with Ianto Evans and Linda Smiley, in Oregon in 1993. He helped organize the first Natural Building Colloquium in 1994. He wrote “The Cobber’s Companion” in 1996 and co-authored “The Hand-Sculpted House” (Chelsea Green, 2002) and “The Art of Natural Building (2nd edition, New Society, 2015).” He lived at Emerald Earth from 1999 to 2010 and was instrumental in many building projects there. He has taught hundreds of hands-on natural building workshops, ranging from one-day earthen oven builds for children to 12-week professional trainings. He enjoys consulting with owner builders to help them design and build successful energy-efficient natural homes. He is also on the Board of Directors of the nonprofit Cob Research Institute, which wrote the first building code for cob in the world and successfully advocated for its adoption into the 2021 International Residential Code. With his partner and children, he stewards a 20-acre organic farm in Yolo County. Learn more at strawclaywood.com

Emerald Earth may be the most complete Natural Building demonstration site in the USA. It has 6 small homes, a large common house, and many utility structures that were built as part of natural building workshops, work parties, and internships. The buildings use passive solar principles for heating and cooling; they feature off-grid solar electricity; composting toilets and greywater recycling; many construction materials were harvested on site. Tours will be incorporated into both workshops, showing the use of round pole timber framing; walls of cob, straw bale, light straw-clay, wattle-and daub, and other natural infill systems; foundations of earthbags, rammed tires, stone and local wood; living green roofs (some insulated with shredded local redwood bark); earthen floors; many kinds of natural plasters and home-made paints.


September 8, 2021
September 9, 2021
Event Category:


Emerald Earth Sanctuary
7700 Peachland Rd.
Boonville, CA 90145 United States


Straw Clay Wood
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