Send Me Workshop Updates!






2017 Natural Building Essentials Workshop
@ South Slope Farm, outside Berea, Kentucky

Have you been wanting to get your hands in the mud for some much needed natural building experience? Are you ready to take the leap into the world of clay and straw? If so, join us this fall for a 5 day introductory Natural Building Workshop.

In this course, you’ll get hands-on experience stomping and sculpting cob, building light clay straw walls, and mixing and applying various natural plasters. Additionally, we’ll go and tour several unique natural homes in the local community and get exposure to some real life examples of successful natural building design. If you’ve been curious about natural building but you need a jump start with your own project, this is the course for you.

natural building essentials workshopWorkshop Information at a Glance:

  • Workshop Date: September 17-21, 2016
  • Location: South Slope Farm, 15 minutes outside Berea, Kentucky (map)
  • Cost and Discounts:
    $500 Early Registration Discount (register 30+ days in advance – $100 off savings!)
    $600 Regular Registration (register less than 30 days in advance)
  • All-inclusive: Workshop includes camping accommodations, and 3 delicious home-cooked meals a day
  • Natural Building Tour: Take a tour with us and see various natural buildings and homestead sites during your stay
  • Led by Ziggy Liloia, builder with 10 years of experience, including cob, straw bale, timber framing, & more
  • Families with children are welcome! Please contact Ziggy for more details

I’m Ready! Let’s Do This

Get Your Hands Muddy and Your Mind Enlivened2016 Natural Building Workshop

This course is an excellent opportunity to work with various natural materials and discover the versatility of clay, sand, straw, and wood. We’ll explore applications of cob, light clay straw, clay plaster, clay paint, and get to see firsthand examples of timber framing, straw bale building, cob ovens, and more.

We’ll also touch upon bigger design elements beyond the basics, including permaculture principles, passive solar, tips for home orientation, wood heat, building according to your needs, etc. Part of our conversations will include how you can incorporate natural building elements into an already existing conventional home, too. Some of what we’ll cover includes the following:

  • Framing and preparing a stud wall to accept light clay straw insulation
  • Mixing light clay straw for use as insulation
  • Making and applying base coat clay plaster made from local materials
  • Building with cob (and how to make a great batch every time)
  • Working with different clay and lime plaster finishes and appropriate troweling techniques
  • Mixing clay paint from simple ingredients for use on a variety of surfaces

Discover the joys of building with mud, and expect to get your hands dirty in this completely hands-on experience. You’ll walk away with a solid understanding of natural building basics, and have an amazing opportunity to explore natural building concepts and different aspects of what it means to live sustainably. Consider it a vacation… where you’ll take home much more than just pictures.

p.s. Our workshops are family friendly. Please contact us about rates for children if you’d like to bring your family along!

How to Register for the Course

Please reserve your spot by completing the workshop registration. Remember, spaces are limited! Don’t forget to apply early to earn your registration discount.

I’m Ready To Register!

Payments can be made via check or Dwolla.com (a Paypal alternative) once your registration is complete. Further details will be provided once we review your registration. Thanks for joining!

Please contact Ziggy with any questions you may have.

About the Workshop Schedule

Students must arrive the afternoon prior to the official workshop start date. For example, students must arrive on September 16th for the September 17-21 workshop. We’ll start with a leisurely dinner and introductions. The workshop will end the morning after the official posted date, with the departure of students on September 22nd. Please factor this in to your travel plans!

Travel directions will be provided once students complete their registration.

Food and Dining

Dinner Time

Unlike other similar natural building workshops, we provide all meals during our workshops. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner will be lovingly prepared with fresh, local, and organic ingredients. The meals will largely consist of hearty organic vegetarian dishes. You will not go hungry with us! (In fact, you might have a hard time leaving the table after each meal.) We will do our best to accommodate dietary restrictions and food allergies. Make sure to indicate any restrictions/allergies in your application.

It is recommended that participants bring snacks and specialty items only if they wish (think coffee, tea, anything you can’t live without) to supplement the otherwise complete meal service.

Lodging and Accommodations During Your Stay

We provide student accommodations including camping space, access to composting toilets and outdoor & indoor shower facilities. These accommodations are already included in the price of the Workshop. Please note: cell phone reception is very poor, and landline telephone use will be made available for essential calls. There is internet access on the property, but we ask that individuals try to use it only for necessities.

Travel directions and a packing list will be provided to workshop participants.

About the Workshop Location

South Slope Farm

The 2016 Natural Building Essentials Workshop is located 15 minutes outside of Berea, Kentucky (map) at our newly named homestead in the gorgeous Clear Creek valley, South Slope Farm. Located on 28 acres of hillside pasture and woods, our homestead sits in the middle of a thriving community with many folks dedicated to art, music, community building, permaculture, sustainable food, and personal/cultural transformation. We are pleased to be surrounded by all manner of motivated folks who want to live meaningful, heartfelt lives.

Berea is a small town in central Kentucky, home to a thriving population of craftspeople, artists, woodworkers, musicians, social activists, and homesteaders. Berea has a longstanding tradition of diversity, social justice, environmental responsibility, and community service. The historic Berea College is the first interracial and coeducational college in the South, and its influence on the town remains to this day.

Testimonials From Previous Workshops

Playing with Mud

“What a great and, dare I say, life changing experience. I miss you guys and hope to make another workshop next spring or summer.”
– Bill E., Natural Building Essentials 2016

“We have talked nonstop about the workshop. It was GREAT! We learned a lot and are really inspired. I think that anytime I want to learn something I will start with a workshop… I am recommending your workshop to everyone.”
– Callie C., Cob Oven Workshop 2013 participant

“In reality, you present so much more than building techniques, although those are important. The weekend afforded me the chance to connect with folks who think alike… getting back in concrete touch with my philosophical roots dating back to times before you all were born. I was truly heartened to be around such a dynamic and motivated and capable group of young folks. It’s easy to get pessimistic when looking at this mess of a world before us.  You all breathe hope! Keep up the great work, and many thanks for a great experience.”
– Angelo S., Cob Building Workshop 2014 participant

“I loved learning things I never knew before, working with other folks, accomplishing things together that we could not do alone, [and] seeing something big come together before our eyes. Ziggy and April were wonderful organizers and hosts. Lots of thought and preparation!”
– Margaret W., Timber Framing Workshop 2013 participant

Send Me Workshop Updates!