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Notes on Earth Plaster Workshop which I attended on Whidbey Island July 21-23rd

By Steve Tracy

While a good portion of city dwellers were contemplating global warming and record high temperatures, I was thoroughorly enjoying an earth plaster workshop on beautiful Whidbey Island . The workshop was presented by Ancient Earth School of Natural Building. I was joined in the workshop by two enthusiastic and joyous apprentices to the school, getting hands on experience in the preparation and application of earth plasters.

Projects included:

  • Overview of surface preparation details.
  • Clay/soil testing and clay/sand selection.
  • Doing a scratch coat to a light straw/clay slip walled sauna(interior and exterior), constructed during a previous workshop.
  • Fresco work to the outside of the sauna(see picture).

Fresco on sauna
  • Lime plaster finish coat mixing and preparing test batches
  • Color testing sample batches for final wash coating.
  • Applied a base finish coat(color wash coat to be added later) to a unique(tortouise/hare combo see sketch - neglected to take picture) newly (apprentice) constructed cob oven.

turtle/hare cob oven

The days were hot, but the shade of tall trees, hose showers and interesting work kept my mind off from the heat most all of the time. Another interesting discovery was that clay slip on the skin works as an insect repellant.

All this, surrounded by other inspiring structures such as a strawbale yurt, earth bag wall meditation hut(under construction), composting toilet, bamboo groves, and vegetable/fruit gardens, surrounded again by a bird filled forest canopy.

I was also fortunate to be invited to several community events including swimming at a local lake and attended a festive birthday party. Both east and west beaches of the island are an easy hr walk away, which I did every morning , gathering and eating just ripening blackberries along the way.

At first glance you may think that our thoughts were far from the issue of global warming, but I assure you that everyone involved at this school shares a deep conviction that by encouraging our rediscovery of our ancient building methods we can have a significant impact on climatic problems, while at the same time providing healthy, affordable, inspiring shelter to all people of the world, and especially to all the homeless currently existing around the world.

Ive taken a small step and wish to continue rediscovering our Ancient Earth building methods, and hope that others will too.

Their next workshop is scheduled for August 12-13th and will be the constrution of a cob oven. If any of you decide to take this workshop, Im sure it will be both fun and informative.



July 22nd, 9am - Path-making workparty at Linda's Gaia's Paradise - Vashon Island

You will be amazed at the progress that has been made since some of you were here last! The yards are all sculpted out: there's a circular yin/yang garden with keyholes, in the front yard looking out my kitchen window. There are mutiple raised beds of all shapes and sizes along the contours...there's a circular seating area between the house and the parking lot...there's deer fencing all around, with 5 gates...there's Adam's fabulous transition gated arbor leading in what I am calling Gaia's Paradise.

There's food, food, food, growing everywhere.

Now! For the icing on that 3 layer sheet mulch 'cake' we started last Fall. Path material! Straight from my land! I would like to rent a chipper for the day, and have a path-making workparty with tree limbs and slash chipped from my own property. I also have some already chipped material elsewhere on the island, waiting for us to come haul away, should we need it. There may even be other surprise tasks you may wish to tackle.

Food and beverages provided. Perhaps we can save a little slash for a bonfire at the end of the day (if it is safe)!

Bring drums and musical instruments for the after-party!

RSVP yes OR no please- ASAP. Thanks so much!

peace and summer blessings to all! Linda

July 22-23 Cob Oven Building Workshop with professionalnatural builder Chariti Li Montez in Olympia, Washington. This two-day workshop goes from 10-6pm with a community lunch that is included in the cost of the course. We will be learning ancient and proven methods for building an earthen oven made of cob, a mixture of sand, clay and straw. Cob ovens are easy to construct and a background in building is not required. They are an excellent alternative cooking source by being low cost and low impact. You will also gain skills in material selection, building methods and techniques, design planning and sculpture. I hope you can join us in creating a beautiful, ethical and sustainable wood-fired baking oven.

Cost: sliding scale $75-$150 Location: 4027 Biscay St. NW, Olympia Washington Date: July 22-23 Time: 10am-6pm

For any further information please call 360 867 9945 or email

Visit our website to learn more about this great community resource and future events:

July 21rst-23rd BASIC PLASTERS/FLOORS with Bernhard Masterson Whidbey Island,WA This workshop will explore the versatility and application of earthen plasters. We will be doing interior and exterior plasters, window and door detail work, bah relief, and fresco applications. This is your chance to get really muddy and learn plastering techniques that you can use with your own building projects. We will be plastering over a number of different materials, including light straw clay, earth bags,and wood. Workshop begins Friday at 4pm. Bring a dish to share for dinner. Lunch provided Saturday & Sunday. Cost: $200

July 23rd - Wise Earth Ecological Landtrust - open house -(rescheduled from July 14) Interested in a revolution disguised as organic gardening? Ready to be the change? Looking for a new paradigm to live in? Come check us out

4400 sq ft greenhouses, large scale hugelkulture, green construction, gardens, orchards trails, remediation projects, 3 salvaged buildings, 8 rooms, media center, fruiting chambers, 200yr forestry plans grey water systems, humanure, sheet mulching, sacredness and so much more.... big cedar trees, big fir trees, big maple trees, so nice.

Opening Doors - new moons eve - sunday 23 july - 130pm @ WEEL - Wise Earth Ecological Landtrust

Tours every second hour, permaculture presentations 330pm 530pm - Dinner 630pm - RSVP only

Biodiesel shuttle from offsite parking - Carbon taxing in effect - Carpool/Hybrid to Single driver Motorhome $5-50

site address: 9811-192nd St SE Maltby

directions: From Seattle

 a.. North on I 405
 b.. East on #522 towards Woodinville, Monroe
 c.. Left at first light (about 6 miles)
 d.. Immediate right at "T"
 e.. Straight at 3-way intersection
 f.. Bear left at "Y" across the RR tracks
 g.. Right on 196th Street SE
 h.. entrance is on right ....use the second one....employee entrance....park by shuttle sign
 j.. From Everett
 k.. East on Highway 2
 l.. South on # 9 past Snohomish to Clearview
 m.. Left at light onto 180th Street SE
 n.. Right at stop sign onto Broadway
 o.. Left on 196th Street SE
 p.. entrance is on right ....use the second one....employee entrance....park by shuttle sign

FYI: Directional signs are posted within 2 miles of Flower World.

July 26th - Insulated Rammed Earth with Meror Krayenhoff at NW Ecobuilder Assn meeting 7-9pm Phinney Neighborhood Association - Lower Brick Building - Basement - 6532 Phinney Ave N

Contact: Thor Peterson

August 10, 6:30-8:30 pm and Saturday and Sunday, August 12-13, 10:00 am-3:00pm, Creating Garden Harmony: a Permaculture Workshop for the Urban Dweller

This three-day workshop will provide participants with an introduction to permaculture and offer skills for interpreting and applying these principles in an urban setting. Participants will have the opportunity to create hands-on permaculture garden projects that will offer the skills and experience needed to replicate them in their backyard. Specific topics include, garden planning, natural patterns in the garden, inviting wildlife into the garden, and plant and people communities. This course is designed to inspire the city gardener to think and act more permaculturally and provide resources for making further connections related to permaculture in the Seattle community. Co-sponsored by the Seattle Permaculture Guild.

The class will meet Thursday August 10, 6:30-8:30 pm, Saturday, August 12 and Sunday, August 13, 10:00am-3:00pm. Thursday's class will be held at Bradner Gardens Park. Saturday and Sunday classes will be held at the Good Shepherd Center garden in Wallingford. This intensive workshop costs $105 per person or $95 for Tilth members. Advance registration and payment is required. To register, go to

August 12/13th EARTH OVEN Coarse: Whidbey Island,WA This will be a fun and information packed workshop on building a clay oven and baking in it. Come with a sense of wonder at this ancient art of using the materials under our feet to build a wood-fired baking oven. We will cover material selection, earth mixing techniques, foundations, corbelled domes, and finish plaster. We will spend a day and a half building and if all goes well, fire and bake in it on the last afternoon. Lunch provided both days. Ancient Earth School of Natural Building PO Box 1061 Freeland, WA 98249

Eli Adadow & Marta Mulholland 1-877-673-4296

August 14th - Global Warming meeting - How to Fight the Right on Global Warming

All the heat last week is making global warming more real for all of us! I have discovered a new book: 50 Simple Things You can do to Fight the Right. (It's by the same people who did 50 Simple Things to Save the Planet several years ago.) It's excellent! I'd like to have it be the topic of our next meeting at the church on August 14th! "How to Fight the Right on Global Warming."

We not only need to get people to take action, we need to counter the disinformation campaign the right is putting on.

At our next core group meeting (to which you are all invited) we will discuss how to approach this at our big meeting on Aug 14th.

Aug 7th meeting: 7:00pm at 711 N 60th St (between streets Fremont and Linden).

Aug 14th meeting: 7:00pm at Lutheran Church across from West entrance to zoo.


August 23 - Convergence of the Tribes: Wednesday 6:30-9pm at Linden Orchards (N. 67th and Linden in the Phinney Neighborhood). Potluck co-hosted by City Repair Seattle, NW EcoBuilding Guild, NW Biodiesel Network and the SPG.

August 25-27th - Northwest Regional Permaculture and Bioregional Gathering will be held at Dharmalaya in Eugene, Oregon Cost is $50 including food

Visit Eugene Permaculture Guild for more details.

September 8 Art of Community Northwest: Co-Opportunities for Sustainability When: Friday, Sept. 8 - Sunday Sept. 10, with possible site visits to communities in the area during the day 9/8 Where: Bastyr University in Kenmore (near Seattle) - Why: To promote and support communities that recognize and practice sustainability What: Interactive workshops/playshops, plenary speakers, music, art, fun live auction, networking opportunities, tables available for groups.

  • Meet People from Existing and Forming Communities: Ecovillages,

Cohousing, Egalitarian, Housing Cooperatives, Collectives

  • Build Real Community Where You Are: at home, at work, at church, in

other organizations

  • Tools You Can Use: Facilitation, Consensus, Ecological Assessments
  • Be More Sustainable: Green Building, Local Agriculture, Bio-Diesel,


Contribute! Submit a proposal for an inspiring activity or workshop you are willing to lead or perform: practical tools, inspiring stories and energizing activities on all levels, including a children's program. (Proposals due by June 1.) Know someone you think could lead a great session? Tell us about them. See details in the attached Call for Presentations, or contact:

Ma'ikwe Ludwig, Program Coordinator, email: , telephone: (505) 514-8180 or Gretchen Sleicher, Program Team, email:, telephone; (206) 324-1226

September 15th-30th - Permaculture Design Course - At the EcoVillage in Port Townsend, WA Instructors: Jenny Pell, Larry Santoyo, Chuck Estin, & many local guests

This course will focus on building practical design and hands-on skills for immediate application in your home, neighborhood, and community. We will examine in-depth strategies for local self-reliance, community development, and thriving local economies.

Join us in the beautiful Pacific Northwest for a 14-day intensive!

  • Permaculture design principles and methodologies
  • Reading landscapes, mapping, and site analysis
  • Patterns in nature
  • Plant propagation and seed saving
  • Indigenous cultivation, traditions, and practices
  • Perennial polycultures and food forests
  • Alternative technologies
  • Water catchment, pond building, and aquaculture
  • Whole systems theory and Ecoliteracy
  • Herbs and medicinal plants
  • Integrated animal systems
  • Passive and active solar designs
  • Natural building, Ecovillage design, and more...

Cost: $1,000 to $600 sliding scale---discounted price includes worktrade. Includes delicious vegetarian meals made from local and farm-fresh foods

Deadline to apply: September 1, 2006. $250 non-refundable deposit required.

For complete details and to register please contact Jenny Pell: or (206) 949-0496

Tel: (360) 385-1991 Cell: (206) 949-0496



Non tribe members can send event info to This info will be compiled by a rotating volunteer twice a month and posted to the permaculture website, the tribe, and emailed to the guild list. If you've planned an event, and didn't make the newsletter, take advantage of tribe and post your event there.

  • Were going to aim for meeting once a month for folks interested in making sure the guild is running smoothly. Please come!
  • Organization of events and volunteers will be headed by whoever cares about the specific task the most! If you have an event idea, etc. consider organizing it. If not, perhaps post it on the guilds wiki and someone else might pick it up.
  • For members who like networking online, want to check on last minute events, or post last minute stuff, etc.

check out the Seattle Permaculture Guild at and join the tribe.


  • More events needed. Please organize one and send updates to
  • collect info on PC sites around town
  • Write/share articles on any topic related to permaculture
  • Create display for tabling at events
  • Staff table at upcoming events (eg Fremont Solstice Parade)


  • Volunteer for the 2nd Annual Community Fruit Tree Harvest!

Rather than letting backyard fruit fall and rot on the ground, residents in Wallingford, Fremont, Phinney, and the University District neighborhoods can donate their surplus fruit to those who need it most - to our local food banks and meal programs.

For its second year, the Community Fruit Tree Harvest, a partnership between Lettuce Link of the Fremont Public Association and Seattle Tilth, will organize volunteers to glean healthy fruit from neighborhood trees and deliver it to local meal programs.

Meet new people, eat fruit, learn about fruit trees, and fight hunger! Come join our efforts to connect nutritious, organically grown produce to low-income individuals and families in Seattle neighborhoods.

How can you get involved and fight hunger?

Volunteer to pick fruit! To sign up, call Lettuce Link at 206.694.6754. Volunteer commitments are 2 hour shifts, August to October, Tuesday evenings and/or Saturday mornings. Visit our website at:

Donate fruit from your fruit trees! To register, call the Natural Lawn & Garden Hotline at 206-633-0224 or email Tree owners will be asked a series of questions, followed by a possible visit to determine if the fruit is healthy enough for donation and accessible. If it is, volunteers will come out to do the leg -- and ladder -- work.

from Lettuce Link - Volunteer orientation meeting for Fruit Tree Harvest events.

Our first volunteer orientation will be on Wednesday, July 26th at 6pm, held in the first floor conference room at the FPA. Address is 1501 N 45th St. There is bike and car parking behind the building off of Woodlawn. Please RSVP so I know the snack count.

Also, for any returning volunteers from last year. We've got a couple of trees that may need to be harvested before the 26th. Anyone interested? Let me know.

Thank you and see you on the 26th! Michelle

  • House of Peas Community House - 2 Rooms Available Soon!

We, Rob, Paul, Dane (14 years old), Hedy, Maria and Noah (6 years old) are a community of people who choose to live cooperatively and consciously to create a better way of life. We strive to be more than just housemates and are attempting to create a community, one in which people care for each other and this place we call home. This includes participating in various community projects, cooking, housekeeping, organic gardening and sharing one or two meals together a day. In addition, three of us have permaculture experience (a natural design methodology). We strive to take that experience and incorporate into our daily lives.

Who are we? Rob is a semi-pro soccer athlete, Paul manages an online community, Dane, Paul's son, is a creative high school student and aspiring film maker, Hedy, our resident angel, is an artist, dancer, martial artist, and cook, Maria is an herbalist, doula and life-long explorer of the ancient ways, and Noah, Maria's son, adds his own creative personality to our community. We strive to care for one another and for the natural systems that nuture us; therefore, no smoking or drugs of any kind on the property.

We practice open communication, recycling, composting, organic cooking and pesticide-free gardening and community living (an on-going personal growth experience... :)

The house, a craftsman, is a pleasant, 3 floor structure with lots of light and is 3 blocks north of Green Lake. There are 3 living rooms, 2 kitchens, 3 refrigerators, 6 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, 2 washers, 2 dryers, 1 large deck, 1 porch, 1 raised bed emerging garden with all day sun and 1 herbal, kitchen garden with most-of-the-day sun, 2 plum trees and 1 fig tree.

Currently, we have 1 room available, it is on the top floor, facing south, is approximately 10 feet by 13.5 feet with attic-type sloping ceiling. Another room will be available August 15th and is 10.5 x 12.5 ft. with 9' ceiling. Rent is $500 per month plus utilities. To move in you'll need first and last month's rent (no deposit).

Our house is open for people with children, couples or individuals who would like to be a part of this still developing community household. Unfortunately, we cannot have pets. We would prefer more female energy at the moment.

If you think you'd be interested in being a participant in this household, please tell us a little about yourself and what you are looking for in a community.


All this and more at Check out our wiki and post permaculture info (see May events newsletter for details).

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Page last modified on December 13, 2008, at 05:47 PM