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whole life skills for a radically different future

Ecological and Natural Building

August 16-20, 2017

Mollie Curry

at Earthaven Ecovillage
near Asheville, North Carolina

SOIL and Earthaven Ecovillage are proud to partner with MudStrawLove for this experiential workshop.

Fellowship for Intentional CommunitiesSponsored by the Fellowship for Intentional Community

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steve-natural-buildingHands-on Education

Learn about the most common natural materials and techniques for designing ecologically sound buildings. Gain hands-on experience with natural building techniques such as cob, earthen plasters, and paints. Tour natural buildings constructed using these techniques to see sustainable possibilities for foundations, roofs, and wall systems, as well as site selection and passive solar design. This introductory course to natural building empowers students to create energy efficient, beautiful, and Earth-friendly structures.


About the Instructors

Mollie CurryMollie Curry is the co-owner of MudStrawLove LLC, a natural building construction, design, and consulting firm. Mollie got involved with natural building when she moved to Earthaven Ecovillage in 1996. She has taught natural building workshops, often at Earthaven and in the Western North Carolina area, since 1998. She has taught cob, plastering, straw bale, straw-clay, earthen paint, earthbag, and carpentry, as well as permaculture. Being involved in many of the natural building projects at Earthaven, as well as teaching and doing projects in other locations, has informed her building experience. Being an “earth” person, cob, plasters and earthen paints (alis) are her favorite things to work with. She has run her own business (Earth Circle Natural Building) since 2003.

In the early-mid 90’s, Mollie worked as a wilderness ranger for the Forest Service, backpacking, clearing trails, contacting the public, and spending much time alone in the wilderness. She has written several articles for various publications (including the Permaculture Activist and Communities Magazine) on natural building, permaculture, and other practical, spiritual, and emotional topics, including Beauty.

Dimitri MagiasisDimitri Magiasis—naturalist, natural builder, and naturopathic doctor—teaches that wellness comes from cultivating a deep connection to the natural world. His natural path began over 16 years ago, when he followed his passion to devote himself to using the gifts that our Earth provides for food and medicine. In 2007, he graduated from Bastyr University with a doctorate in naturopathic medicine. Since then, he has realized that having a deep connection to the natural world requires living so that the functions of everyday life are woven intimately into the land. Building with mud evolved out of Dimitri’s love to get his hands in the earth as an apprentice with Betty Seaman and Tautacho Muhuawit at Spirit Pine Sanctuary. He currently teaches and guides for No Taste Like Home, an organization committed to connecting with wild plants and mushrooms as friends that taste good. His other passions are nature awareness, foraging for food and medicine, gardening, and supporting the bonds that engender a tightly knit community.

farmer-webWhen Chris Farmer was 20 years old, he realized that he had never eaten a single thing that he knew where it came from. At 22, he helped start an organic vegetable farm outside of Olympia, WA. Journeying home to the Carolinas to be closer to family, he moved to Earthaven Ecovillage. Since his arrival to Earthaven in 1997, Chris has cleared his own farm field, designed and built passive solar homes using the wood from trees he has killed (including his own Microhut), held leadership positions, raised turkeys, grown vegetables, co-founded the Forestry Cooperative, designed and installed multiple off-grid energy systems, and a few other things. He is currently the head of SunWorks Electric, a renewable energy installation and consultation firm. His newest excitement is dabbling in small-scale biochar production and wood gasification at Gateway Farm. Regardless of how Chris is spending his days, he's often wondering what it's going to take to get us through these upcoming troubled times.


Tuition includes catered organic meals for 5 days (14 meals total) included. Our cooks prepare mostly omnivorous meals that provide simple, unprocessed, home-grown deep nourishment. As much food as possible is sourced from Earthaven and its surrounding organic farms and gardens, with some ingredients sourced from local grocery stores. Grains, beans, and nuts are often pre-soaked; vegetables are served raw, fermented, and cooked; soup stocks are made from the bones of our livestock; fats are high-quality animal fats (butter, lard, and tallow), coconut oil, and olive oil (with no trans fats, synthetic oils, or processed vegetable oils); and sweeteners (raw sugar, molasses, honey, and maple syrup) are used minimally.

This meal plan is gluten free. Vegetarian and vegan meals are available upon request. Please contact us about accommodating any other dietary needs.

Accommodations and Amenities

Participants will camp in the Earthaven campground. Most campground sites are for two-person tents; some can accommodate larger tents. Several RV spots (no hookups) are also available.  The campground offers clean drinking water, a tarp-covered kitchen with propane burners for cooking and heating water, and an outhouse with composting toilet and hand-washing station. A flush toilet is available in the Council Hall nearby. (Other private or dormitory housing may be available; contact SOIL for further details.)

Earthaven Ecovillage is off-grid and therefore not supplied by public utilities. However, electricity is available from solar panels and two small hydropower stations. There is minimal internet access and no cell phone reception, although landline phones are available for short phone calls or emergencies. Living at Earthaven offers a balance between comfort and adventure.


Participants are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. SOIL expects to fill this course. Register by June 1 and save $50.

Tuition is $750 ($700 until June 1). This cost includes food for the entire program, camping, field trips, instruction, and all materials. Indoor lodging is available for an additional cost; please contact us for more information. Transportation is not included.

How to secure your space

Registration for this year's Ecological and Natural Building course is closed. To keep up with updates on next year's course, as well as other SOIL offerings, sign up for the SOIL newsletter.

Cancellation Policy

If you cancel, you may transfer your place in the program to someone of your choosing (they will need to register online), or you can donate your place to someone to someone who would not otherwise have been able to participate.

  • If you have paid tuition in full, 50% is refundable until June 1, 2017.
  • If you have partially paid tuition with a payment plan, 30% is refundable until June 1, 2017.
  • After June 1, 2017, there will be NO tuition refunds.
  • Indoor lodging fees are 100% refundable, minus a $100 office fee.

If SOIL cancels the Ecological and Natural Building Workshop for any reason, 100% of your tuition will be refunded.

Contact Gabriel at connect@schoolofintegratedliving.org with registration questions.

Experience a developing ecovillage for yourself!

Most of SOIL’s classes take place at Earthaven Ecovillage, giving participants a hands-on, skill-building immersion within an authentic community-based, village setting. Tours of Earthaven are also available on a monthly basis, a great way to dip your toe into this long-standing, intergenerational social experiment.

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