Kick off the summer with our weeklong Straw Bale Building Workshop!
What to expect:
The week will be spent immersed in the art of natural building as we build a small studio from the ground up. Our work environment will be a positive, fun, and enthusiastic nexus for sharing ideas, community building, self-empowerment, and restoration of the Earth. We will cover a range of natural and straw bale building topics including putting up walls, putting in openings for doors and windows, adding sod to a roof, and putting on a first layer of plaster. The days will be punctuated by three hearty meals, freshly made for us, and featuring our region’s amazing farms, bakers, and other food purveyors. Conversation is sure to be full of topics around natural building, permaculture, good food, and all about what we’re doing in our lives. The evenings will be free—you can get to know each other better by roasting marshmallows around the campfire, go to one of the local bars, stargaze, or read a book.
The Site & Area:
Our site is Big Foot Food Forest, a beautiful 36-acre farm located in Montague, Western Massachusetts. Big Foot Food Forest was founded in 2019 with the goal of establishing a diverse permaculture orchard of nuts, berries, forest products, and livestock. Currently you will find baby almonds, pecans, walnuts, and chestnut trees; fields of small berry bushes (blueberry, raspberry, seaberry, goji, aronia and others). You will also meet our small flock of Shetland and Babydoll sheep, and the colourful crew of seventy-plus heirloom and mixed-bag chickens. Babette, the founder and owner of the farm, will be more than happy to chat about her vision and many projects!
The studio that we’re building in the workshop will become a hangout space for volunteers and visitors at the Big Foot Food Forest.
Big Foot Food Forest is right down the street from the Lady Killigrew Café, the Bookmill and the Sawmill River Arts Gallery. There are also many excellent hiking trails and parks nearby, like Wendell State Forest and Mount Toby. Turners Falls, Greenfield, and Gill are close by, offering a range of pubs, cute shops, and excellent food.
Accommodations and Meals:
Each day, we will serve three robust, yummy vegetarian meals that are cooked on-site with locally-sourced ingredients. Vegan and gluten-free options will be available if requested. Please inform us of any food allergies upon registration (food will be cooked in a kitchen that uses nuts, soy, dairy, etc.).
For participants coming from further away, we have limited camping sites that are available on a first come first serve basis. These camping sites include access to an indoor, communal shower, toilet and fire pit. We are happy to share recommendations for other accommodations in the area.
Your Instructor and Hosts:
Michael McDonough has been teaching natural building workshops around the country since 2009. He is a New York-based contractor, ecological designer, and educator who founded and runs Rising Earth Natural Building. His work can be found at the North Carolina Museum of Life and Science, the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, Oxmoor Farm, and at several homesteads along the east coast.
Babette Wils and Mark Somerville founded Big Foot Food Forest in 2019 with the 20-year goal of building a diverse, permaculture-based farm. In 2021 the first fields of berries and nut trees were planted and small flocks of chickens and sheep began their work of soil management and improvement. Before coming to Montague, Babette ran workshops for the Boston Food Forest Coalition, and worked as an international education consultant. Mark works at Olin College and has done much building around the farm.
Tuition is $850 and includes the workshop and meals. Camping on site is an additional $75 per person. A $400 non-refundable down-payment is required to hold your place. One-third of our spots are half-price work-exchange opportunities for people with lower incomes.
Total participation is limited to 10 people, so make sure to reserve your spot early!
FOR MORE INFO - email firstname.lastname@example.org or call/text (781) 428-1670.