Straw Bale House Workshop – August 2011

New Community Project (NCP) is pleased to offer a straw bale house workshop August 20-21, 2011 in Harrisonburg, VA.  This 2 day course provides students the opportunity to participate in building a local straw bale house, while learning the necessary steps from design and construction to finishing details. Natural Builder and designer Ted Butchart will lead the workshop

When:  August 20-21, 2011 – 8:30-5:00 each day   (rain date August 27-28)

Where: Good Earth Gardens, 3393 Muddy Creek Rd. in Harrisonburg, VA

How much: $165 (4 work trade scholarships will be offered)

Participants: The course will be capped at 25 participants. Registration Required

Lodging: Camping is offered on site. Bring a tent! Rustic bathroom and cooking facilities are available.

Meals: Participants are expected to pack a lunch both days. A celebratory dinner will be hosted on day two by the home owners! Snacks will be provided throughout the workshop

Proceeds: All proceeds support NCP’s local initiatives – promoting sustainable homes and communities in the Shenandoah Valley

Hands on Construction:

The hands-on aspect of the workshop focuses on building a 352 sq. ft. modified post and beam cabin. Students work in groups while learning to bale the walls, place window and door frames and smooth and shape the finished walls. During the second day of the workshop students will finish baling walls, add finishing details (including wiring, plumbing, plaster stops and wire mesh) and prepare the walls for plastering.  

Education and Discussion:

Throughout the workshop students will participate in lectures and discussions on the latest straw bale building methods, discuss the advantages of straw bale houses, analyze important techniques for building durable straw bale structures, and explore design considerations for their own projects.

Students will finish the workshop prepared to start their own straw bale projects and connected with a local network of experienced straw bale builders they can call on!

Ted Butchart: 

Ted has designed 50+ straw buildings, and advised and instructed architects, engineers, contractors, building officials and owner builders. He is a founding member of the North American Natural Building Colloquium and the Director of the GreenFire Institute.  Now in his second career as a Naturopathic Physician, Ted bases his natural medicine practice, Virginia Natural Health, out of Staunton, VA.  Recently Ted taught sessions in Natural Building and Intro to Natural Medicine during NCP’s Spring 2011 Permaculture Design Course.

Suggested reading:

  • “Build it with Bales” by MacDonald
  • “Serious Straw Bale” by Paul Lacinsky
  • “More Straw Bale Building” by Chris Magwood, Peter Mack, and Tina Therrien
  • “Building Green” by Sneel and Callahon 


Please email questions, comments, and/or registration forms to Aaron Johnston at or call (540) 236-8505 for further details.


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