Volunteers at Ashevillage Institute build using natural materials such as bamboo, mud, and straw, and practice permaculture techniques.
Janell Kapoor’s first class in earthen building led to the creation of Kleiwerks International, which helps strengthen communities by teaching sustainable living skills.
A volunteer packs earth with her feet near the wood-fired oven built during last year’s Natural Building Extravaganza.
Glass bottles are used in earthen construction to provide structural support as well as decoration. Groups can tour Ashevillage’s earthen buildings and gardens, which feature edible and medicinal plants, catchment systems, greenhouses, and aquaculture ponds.
Last year, a group of 30 students from the Business and Technology Institute in Les Cayes, Haiti, learned the basics of cultivating and processing bamboo for construction.
Kleiwerks International helped build earthen housing in Thailand in 2008.
Children use their feet to mix cob, a material made with clay-rich soil, sand, straw, and water, which is packed into bricks.