Berry Hill Gardens Bed and Breakfast, Bainbridge, NY
242 Ward Loomis Road
Bainbridge, New York (NY) 13733

Strawbale Building Workshop

The September 2008 Straw Bale Building workshop was lots of fun and work and a great success. Strawbale Workshop, 2008Twenty-five eager men and women of all ages, all walks of life and all levels of building skills joined together Sept. 1-7, 2008 for a week long course to learn techniques on building a Straw bale structure taught by Andrew Morrison, licensed contractor specializing in straw bale and green construction, from Oregon and owner of  The workshop was not just theory - it was work - sometimes-backbreaking work but everyone seemed to thrive on it.  The group included a few building contractors wanting to add the strawbale techniques to their practice, Interior wall designan architect, an interior decorator, musician, some public housing execs, several computer aficionados, (they helped immensely when the wireless internet went down), a realtor, forestry ranger (Dana was really great with the chain saw!) and couples getting ready to build their own house.  It was a diverse group of happy, energetic people all interested in this Green building technique.  Andrew took the participants step by step through the process of building a strawbale cottage roughly about 800 square feet in size.  

We had perfect weather.  The days were warm but not hot, the evenings cool - just right for sitting around the bonfire by the pond playing music, singing songs, and telling stories.  The only day it rained was the first day we started plastering.  It was a light rain and was just right for curing the natural lime plaster.  This dedicated group was intent on getting as much plastering done as possible before the workshop ended.
The three full meals a day plus tasty snacks twice a day were delicious and plentiful thanks to Cis and Sandy.   

Some of the techniques and topics covered in the class:

  • Design and Engineering Options
  • Toe Up Installation
  • Bale Stacking
  • Bale Re-Tying and Alteration
  • Box Beam Construction and InstallationRoof Construction
  • Electrical Work
  • Plumbing Installations
  • Hanging Cabinetry
  • Attaching Interior Partition Walls
  • Shaping Bales and Corners
  • Creating Niches
  • Plaster Prep Work
  • Natural Plastering  

Special Thanks to some great local contractors and suppliers for helping us bring this project into reality.  
Aaron Koch, my Feng Shui advisor and teacher, who helped me to site the building for the best chi energy.  Chris O'Keefe, Architect, who helped me bring my ideas to a workable building plan.   Bob Kaseguma, NY Engineer for helping me with my plans and stamping them for the building dept. Paul Knoll of PAK Construction for adeptly putting in the foundation in time for the workshop. We started on 8/8/08 - a very auspicious day for new beginnings.
Mike and John Dougherty of Doc Services who worked tirelessly right up to the date of the workshop to complete the framing and roofing so that the strawbales would not get wet and we could begin the workshop on schedule.  Clark Sanders, Straw Bale builder in Meredith, NY for valuable advice and easing   my last minute anxieties.  88 BC Building Supplies and Universal Forest Products for getting materials promptly delivered and taking care of those last minute needs.  Dale Grover, Lynn Gro Farms, Afton, NY for providing dry Oat strawbales.  
Special thanks to my neighbors Phil and Elaine Sherman who provided extra wheel barrels, electric extension cords, and various tools and to Elaine for being my building buddy in this project.  (Elaine plans on building a Strawbale music and art glass studio sometime in the future)
Thank you Andrew Morrison, our instructor, and all who came to Berry Hill Gardens to help bring to fruition my ideas and dreams for the straw bale structure.  

There are two more coats of plastering to be done as well as some carpentry and interior finishing work before the building will finished.  
Check back with us for notice of our plastering party.  The more the merrier!

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