Strawbale Workshop May 2018


The Art of Natural Building:
Focus on Strawbale – Workshops May 2018 – London, ON

Straw bales are a highly insulative, low-embodied-energy, natural building material made from an agricultural waste product. For many, they are locally available and affordable. Straw is easy to work with for people new to construction as it is flexible and can be very forgiving.
This hands-on learning experience can be taken as a one or two weekend adventure.

We are building a practical, affordable and beautiful 300 sq. ft. bunkie with an open concept design and a sleeping loft.  Being well insulated, it is the perfect design for going off-grid or minimizing energy usage.


Come build with us at this serene and inspiring property that hosts permaculture, herb and vegetable gardens, orchard trees, an apiary, a cordwood project and an earthship inspired greenhouse. Accommodations are available by request.
The Living Centre
5871 Bells Rd.
London, ON. N6P 1P3 Canada

Dates & Price:

May 5 & 6 - $270
($250 for workshop, $20 for 2 vegan organic lunches)

Join us as we place straw bales into the double stud frame of the bunkie. We will learn about proper stacking, working around windows and doors, filling gaps for consistent insulation, bale stitching and preparation for plastering. Much attention will be given to ensuring a flat, even wall surface for the plaster to come.

May 5, 6, 7 and optional 8th - $325
($300 for workshop, $25 for 3 vegan organic lunches)

Join us as we place straw bales into the double stud frame of the bunkie. We will learn about proper stacking, working around windows and doors, filling gaps for consistent insulation, bale stitching and preparation for plastering. Much attention will be given to ensuring a flat, even wall surface for the plaster to come.
Building on our beautifully prepared straw bale wall, we will apply the scratch (or base) coat of natural plaster to the Bunkie.  We will discuss and participate in plaster preparation methods and experiment with a few different application techniques. Focus will be on filling low spots and creating a flat surface for the finish plaster. We will review how to deal with window and door details, as well as corners and other tricky spots.

May 12 & 13 - $270
($250 for workshop, $20 for 2 vegan organic lunches)

This weekend's focus will be applying a finish coat of plaster. We will create and apply a beautiful finish plaster. Different finishes and techniques will be discussed, including tinted plasters and mineral paints. If time allows, there will be an opportunity to experiment briefly with some raised plaster designs.

All workshops - $545
($500 for workshop, $45 for 5 vegan organic lunches)

Time: 9am to 5pm

More info about the workshop leaders:

Kristi Mahy – Strawbale Expert

Kristi Mahy is a natural building enthusiast with experience working on many straw bale and plaster projects. She is excited by the possibilities that natural materials hold to enhance the environment and offer healthier, more pleasant living spaces. She took the sustainable building course at Fleming and has worked with living Sol, Evolve Builders and Camel's Back, and on many solo projects. Kristi is a mom, and enjoys spending time outdoors playing, canoeing, running, gardening and more.

Marianne Griffith – Carpenter / Sustainable Building Project Manager –

Marianne Griffith is the director of non-profit organization, Building Better, which promotes and implements sustainable building technologies.  She was trained as a carpenter through The Skilled Trades Centre in Burlington, and has worked in home renovation, furniture making, and sustainable housing.  She has been employed on the Earthship Biotecture international building crew in many countries, including Sierra Leone, Guatemala and Indonesia.  She holds certificates in training in Applied Sustainability through Fanshawe College and Advocacy and Implementation from the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals.  She is an avid member of the London Environmental Network and an advocate for local, sustainable food systems and renewable energy.

Scott Mc Dowell - CHIZLD Design & Construction Ltd. –

Justine Nigro – Architectural Technologist / Designer

Justine Nigro is a graduate of Architectural Technology from Fanshawe College, with a certificate from Earthship Biotecture. She is a natural building enthusiast, and believes that sustainable building should not be the alternative. Sustainability must be at the forefront of every design project, because it is a requirement that we respect and act as caretakers of the environment.
Justine is actively involved in the Chippewa Sustainable Living Project in partnership with Building Better. Working for an Architect in Stratford has given her experience in the residential and commercial construction industry. While she is well versed in conventional drafting & design she is ready to be the change and join the sustainable building industry.

The Living Centre – Host –

The Living Centre is a powerful gateway for transition, regeneration and resilience.   The eco-spiritual community offers life-changing leadership education for those pioneering souls who are ready to heal, expand consciousness and unleash their true potential. Established upon Earth-centered values, our programs and on-line resources support people to discover their ‘sacred work' as builders of a planetary community focused on peace and respect for all life. A safe space is created to shed old layers, transcend limitations and return to wholeness. The Seven Pathways that hold this alternative lifestyle approach are Shamanu: Earth Wisdom Teachings, Visionary Herbalism, Ayurvedic Living Nutrition, Permaculture, Forest Gardening, Mentorship & Apprenticeship programs.

Natural Building helps us connect to our local natural environment, to our own intuitive and innate creativity and to each other. It helps us to shift from an industrial, and often toxic building process to one that is affordable, empowering, community-building and life-affirming. We are co-creating; learning to dance in balance with nature.    We are learning to " ingeniously in a low-carbon world!" ~ Zero Footprint organization

Founded in 1983 by Shantree Kacera to fulfill his dream of living in the country in accordance with the laws of nature, The Living Centre is an oasis of healing and learning for thousands of people from around the world. Focused on ‘Care of the Earth, Care of People and Care of Future Generations,' Shantree and Lorenna Bousquet-Kacera's  life-inspiring programs supports those who desire to be 'agents of change' to deepen their connection with the natural world, oneself and their community. 

This 50-acre educational sanctuary is located in the heart of the Carolinian bioregion. Over the course of 35 years, The Living Centre has transformed into a multifunctional and ecologically rich classroom which consists of an abundance of forest gardens, a charming teaching lodge, a solar earth lodge, quaint guest cabins, medicine wheel herb garden, native plant trail, forest pathways, meadows, ponds, organic orchards, a snake habitat, a cordwood-cob building, the dynamically alive energy of the land and a wide range of wildlife.

Accommodation info:

We offer limited accommodations for those attending our programs from May to September:
Tenting: $10 a night, $5 a night for additional people - bring your own tent and bedding
Shared Cabins: $40 a night - $20 a night for additional people -  please bring your own bedding - quaint and cozy - no electricity or water

Facilities: A lovely cedar outdoor shower, washing area and fully equipped outdoor kitchen. Use of the teaching lodge for reading and movement, the pond, forest trails and gardens. Unless otherwise specified please bring your own breakfasts & dinners. We are a vegan Centre so ask that no animal food products be brought onto the property. Thank you. There  are a number of good  restaurants in London for those who wish to venture off property. 

Here's a link to other accommodation options: