Posted by: Stefan Anderson | December 11, 2013

A Barefoot Builder

Barefoot BuildingA note from CS3 alumnus Laura Berry on her recent internship, a truly inspiring sustainability project:

“This fall, I decided to take time off from school to work as an intern in rural Woodbury, Tennessee for a natural building company called The Barefoot Builder, a member of The Natural Cottage Project. Often considered a subset of permaculture design, natural building encompasses a wide range of building systems with a focus on sustainability and a goal of creating beautiful and useful structures for people that add to the land rather than take away from it. Although there are now many natural building techniques and natural builders around the world, such as straw bale construction and timber framing, Christina (the artisan behind The Barefoot Builder and my good friend and mentor) focuses mostly on building with cob, a material made of clay, sand, and straw that is similar to adobe. In October, I took part in a two week long workshop in which 40 individuals came together and built a house at Dogwood Farm, an intentional community near Woodbury. During the workshop, I learned an incredible amount about natural construction, from how to use recycled and gleaned materials in the building process (ex. reusing colored glass bottles as windows) to how to design buildings that utilize passive solar to retain heat in the winter. More importantly, the process of building a house with a group of like-minded people showed me how natural building gives people the now-rare opportunity to come together as a community through creating something collectively — by helping to build a structure, each person leaves a little part of their identity imbedded in its walls. With the end of the growing and building season (it gets cold even in Tennessee!), I’m now working on earning my official permaculture design certification and hope to return to Birdsong Hollow Farm to help Christina with projects in the spring. Please feel free to look through my public Facebook photo album called “Barefoot building and intentional living”   and contact me if you’d like to learn more about natural building!



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