Straw bale building
Every year for the past few years we have been hosts to a great bunch of kids from the Noosa Pengari Steiner School. Grade 9 (14/15 year olds) have a 3 week school camp with us to experience self sufficient permaculture farm life. They are divided up into groups and alternate jobs every day. Every day we have a different crew to help with farming jobs, building work and domestic jobs. The domestic crew looks after their food and does cleaning, washing, feeding food scraps to chooks, empty compost toilets, light fires for their hot water and lots more. The farming crew gets involved in the day to day farm jobs; planting, composting, harvesting, looking after animals, weeding, wood collecting and chopping and heaps more (I can’t name it all here, I would run out of room…)
Every year we organise a project for the building crew to get involved in, this year the project is straw bale building by putting in straw bale walls to create my music studio. They have been doing an amazing job! With the help of volunteer and natural building expert Alice and experienced natural builder Rob, the kids have put up all the walls and put the first few coats on already, and it is only the start of week 3!
They started by putting the straw bales in the spaces between the posts to create the walls. Vertical stakes were used to hold the bales into place. Tom was kept busy having to create the window boxes for the recently purchased second hand windows. Those and a frame for the French doors had to be put into place before the remainder of the walls could go up. The timber for the window boxes was milled onsite from wood harvested from the property. All other timber used was either re-purposed (second hand) or milled here.
After the straw bales were in place, coats of sand, clay, water and straw were rubbed into the bales and any holes discovered were filled. Then Alice made up a mixture of cow manure, sand, clay and water which was put onto the walls. The walls will still be able to breathe but will be protected. The final coat will be a lime render.
It is very exciting to have my studio unfold before my eyes! The kids have been doing such an amazing job under the guidance of Alice, Rob and Tom. We always enjoy having the teens here very much, it is an intense 3 weeks but very fulfilling seeing these teenagers embracing jobs they found challenging when they first arrived. I bet they never thought they would be stirring cow manure to put into a bio-digester, let alone putting it on a straw bale wall with their bare hands!