Loading Events

« All Events

Rammed Earth, Cob, and Straw Workshop – East Tennessee

October 21, 2024 - October 25, 2024


Dates: October 21– October 25, 2024 (YES. We are still having the workshop as scheduled.)

Location: Greeneville, Tennessee

Come and join us in beautiful eastern Tennessee for our Rammed Earth, Cob and Straw Workshop! We will be working hands-on with rammed earth, cob building, and straw-clay building. This workshop is very unique because you will get hands-on experience with three different building techniques in one class. This workshop is perfect for beginners and experts alike! You will get the expert knowledge to build with rammed earth, cob and straw! Either for small-scale structures or large-scale projects like homes and buildings.

This workshop is a great experience to learn how to build with rammed earth, cob and straw, and to get a broad learning overview of natural building techniques. You will get a solid foundation in natural building fundamentals. You will learn the advantages of high thermal mass rammed earth and cob versus high insulation straw materials. We will be constructing demonstration projects with each material so you get hands-on experience and a feel for each method. We will also be mixing and applying lime plaster on an existing cob building, and studying Natural Building together each day. After this workshop, you will have the basic experience and confidence to design and build your own rammed earth, cob and straw constructions or buildings.

Hands-On Work Topics:

– How to build and set up rammed earth forms for walls and structures.

– How to properly mix and compact rammed earth material into forms.

– How to choose the right materials for rammed earth, and how to add color to your layers.

– How to make cob (learn how to make cob with the tarp method and with machinery)

– How to build cob walls using traditional hand-sculpting and using innovative slipforms (learn all the great advantages of building cob walls with forms)

How to make straw-clay (also known as light-straw-clay)

– How to build highly insulating straw-clay walls (learn how to frame and pack the walls)

– Selecting and testing soils for cob, rammed earth, and straw-clay (learn several ways to test your soil composition)

– Lime Plaster Finishing (learn how to mix and apply lime plaster finishes to your walls)

– Creating window and door frames in cob walls (learn how to install frames into cob walls)


Classroom and Discussion Topics:

– Site selection and design (includes Passive Solar design principles)

– Materials and tools (covers traditional and modern cob building toolset and materials)

– Building Solid Foundations (learn all about constructing proper building foundations)

– Building codes and how to successfully get building permits for rammed earth homes, cob homes and straw homes.

Best practices for building a healthy, non-toxic home.

– Basic Electrical and Plumbing integration for rammed earth homes, cob homes and straw homes

– Installing windows and doors

– Roofing and Bond Beams. Proper roof ventilation practices!

– Natural plasters and finishes (Vapor Permeable / “Breathable” finishes)

– Overview of all Natural Building materials, and how to hybridize them!

strawbale workshop

This workshop is a unique experience for people to learn about building rammed earth homes, cob homes and light-straw-clay homes, and to get an overview of Natural Building. Not only are there plenty of hands-on lessons to learn from, but we will also have ample discussion and informal classroom time. Most rammed earth workshops, cob workshops and strawbale workshops don’t cover this many topics. But here, you will learn all the core lessons needed to start building from this one workshop!

Plus – there will be many hours of discussions about building homes and natural building throughout the workshop. Its a great way to get your questions answered and brainstorm your building ideas!

light straw clay workshop

The workshop will be held at a private property in Greeneville, Tennessee.

Each day will begin at 9:00 AM, and the days will include hands-on building, classroom sessions, discussions, and learning activities related to cob, straw, and natural building topics. We will break for lunch between 12:00 to 1:00 PM, and we will complete each day at around 4:00 PM. They will be full-packed days! Worth your every penny!

rammed earth cob straw alex sumerall

The workshop will be taught by Alex Sumerall, an east coast Earth Building Mason who has a focus on creating earthen structures that are healthy, aesthetically pleasing, and functional for modern life. He is the owner of This Cob House, which is dedicated to teaching people about cob and earthen building techniques. Alex has been practicing earthen building since 2011. He graduated from the Aprovecho School of Natural Building in 2013 in Cottage Grove, Oregon, and continues to teach, present, consult, and construct.

Free Bonus!

Everyone who signs up for the workshop will receive a printed copy of Alex’s book, “Build a Cob House: A Step-By-Step Guide”, and the downloadable PDF version, FREE! We only make printed copies for workshop students, so this is your chance to get one. We will be using the book as a lesson guide throughout the workshop too so you can follow along with your book in hand.

florida cob house workshop book


Alpaca Farm and Fiber Mill Tour!

As another added bonus to the workshop, we also offer a free alpaca farm and fiber mill tour at our neighbor’s Two Roots Farm. They have over 50 friendly alpacas, a fiber mill, and a gift shop! We usually go on this tour Wednesday after class.

free alpaca tour

Listen to the great things that our workshop participants are saying!


“The cob workshop was a life-changing experience. I learned a lot about natural building, not only from Alex’s instruction, experience and demonstrations, but from interacting with people from different backgrounds who were a great source of collective knowledge. The hands-on experience was priceless!”

Tony Romo, Texas

“The Cob Building Workshop was a great investment of my time! It was well organized, extremely inspiring, and FUN! Alex was able to explain construction basics to neophytes like me, yet he could also answer the complex questions asked by the more experienced workshop attendees. I can’t wait until the next workshop!”

Marybeth Babos, Tennessee


There are two options for lodging: free camping on site, or making reservations at one of the local hotels or AirBnBs. Hotels are available in the neighboring towns of Greeneville, Newport, Parrottsville, and Hot Springs.

Nearby is the Briggs Brothers Ranch in Parrottsville, TN, and the Hot Springs Resort in Hot Springs, North Caolina.

Campers will have access to a private portable toilet and a private outdoor shower.

The workshop location has running water available, but no electricity yet. Please bring your own solar generator if needed.

cob workshop tennessee


Meals will not be included in this workshop so participants will need to provide their own food and drinks. There are several local restaurants and grocery stores nearby the workshop site. We even have an amazing corner-store within a walkable distance from the workshop site!

Each student is responsible for their own meal preparation. An hour for lunch is provided, allowing adequate time for food, a quick nap, or trip into town. There is no official kitchen on site yet. Coolers are welcome and encouraged!

Recreation & Surroundings

Greeneville is located near the edge of the Appalachian Mountains in eastern Tennessee. It is a beautiful area, and there are many scenic places to visit nearby. You can also travel to places like Gatlinburg, TN or Asheville, NC within a one hour driving time from the workshop site.

Family & Group 10% Discounts

Ask about the 10% discount. We encourage group & family activities because it enhances learning among your support group. Email me at alex@thiscobhouse.com for custom group/family invoice.

Children/young people of any age are welcome to join in and learn. Please be aware that some areas are under construction, as is the purpose of this workshop, but it is generally child-safe.


Price: $499

cob workshop sign up

Additional Discounts: 10% for family and friends participating together.

Teens accompanying a parent/guardian are half price. Children under 13 accompanying a parent/guardian are free.

Please email me to register with the group/family discount. For normal registration, please click the “Sign Up Now” button above.

If you have any other questions about the workshop, please feel free to email me at alex@thiscobhouse.com

If you have a large party of people registering, they can all register separately, or contact me for a custom invoice.


October 21, 2024
October 25, 2024


This Cob House
Greeneville, TN 37743 United States + Google Map
View Venue Website


Alex Sumerall
View Organizer Website