Sep 29, 2008


I have experience with mud. As a kid I participated in a race through an obstable course built in a foot of mud (and loved it). As a young adult I trekked to sulpher mud baths in the Northeast of Brasil, and relished the mosquito relief my full body mud coating gave.

Now comes the earth building chapter! I've been interested in cob for a while (a building material made of clay, sand, and straw or wood chips). I'm inspired by wonderful adobe buildings in the desert, kept cool by their foot thick earthen walls. I dream of living on radiant heated earthen floors, but understand the importance of starting a little smaller.

I was thrilled this weekend to participate in building a cob oven and rocket stove for Phillies Bridge Farm Project in Gardiner, New York. It was a wet weekend, so although we got the oven and stove built in two days, we'll have to wait for drier weather to cut the oven door, remove the sand, and fire up. You can see the all the steps from base to plaster here. You can learn about cob ovens here and rocket stoves here.

The short and sweet is that the rocket stove is the super efficient element, while the earth oven heats slowly then stays hot for a very long time, baking incomparable foods and bringing people together to enjoy breads, pizzas, etc. They are both a pleasure to use. And, I must say, a pleasurable project to spend the weekend on. How often do adults get to play in mud for two days straight?

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