Upcoming Workshops

Rammed Earth, Adobe, Cob, & Natural Paints and Plasters: The Barclay School Classroom


A series of building workshops are currently being formed which will take place between the months of January – June, 2015 on the Columbia College Campus in Columbia, SC.   Volunteer labor, building workshop labor, and a bit of paying labor will come together to construct a 400sf Outdoor Classroom for the Barclay School.  The Barclay Schoool is a very small school for special needs children; the students of the school will also participate in the building of their school.

The classroom will be built with Stabilized Rammed Earth walls, a conventional foundation & stem wall, a wooden-framed Living Roof, Adobe & Cob benches, Earthen Floors, & will be finished with Clay Paints and Plasters.  The building will be handicap accessible.

The project has obtained a building permit from the City of Columbia;  design & engineering by:

Root Down Designs, LLC – Architect

John Moore, 4SE Structural Engineering

Soil Consultants, Inc. – Soil Testing

Mark Rushton – General Contractor

The schedule of Building Workshops, Volunteer Work Days, and other events will be listed below and updated as plans progress.  Please check back if the information you are seeking is not here.

To learn more about the project, or to make a small donation, please click here.

Construction Schedule:


Volunteer Work Days – TBD


Rammed Earth Building Workshops :  2/7 – 2/8; 2/14 – 2/15; 2/20 – 2/21; 2/27 – 2/28 – more info TBD

Volunteer Work Days – TDB


Adobe Block Making Workshop – Karen George: 3/7 – more info TBD

Volunteer Work Days – TDB


Adobe Building & Cob Building Workshops – Karen George: 4/4 – 4/5   more info TBD

Volunteer Work Days – TDB


Earthen Floors Workshop – Kelley Rustine: 5/2 – 5/3   more info TBD

Finish Paints & Plasters Workshop – Kelley Rustine: 5/16 – 5/17   more info TBD

Volunteer Work Days – TDB

June – Project Complete

Teacher’s Bio’s:






April Magill: click here

Karen George:   Karen began her natural building career in 2012 when she participated in a 4-month full time apprenticeship in the WASI program offered by Kleiwerks International.  Upon completing the apprenticeship Karen has kept herself fully immersed in the natural building world, moving from mentor to mentor with several well-known natural builders in the U.S. including Barefoot BuilderEarthen EndeavorsHighland Artisan and Heirloom Timber Framing.  She has since founded her own small enterprise, Build Like a Bird Natural Building.  She loves teaching, learning, and building, and she teaches cob, adobe, construction, and various other natural building workshops. Her favorite part of teaching natural building is watching people realize the potential that lies under their feet and within themselves

Kelley Adair:  Kelley grew up surrounded by nature in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania in a construction and farming family, where she was exposed to a self relying mindset.  Kelley feels an affiliation for developing spaces, as she believes we share an emotional connection in any environment. After earning a bachelors of science in Interior Design at Philadelphia University she enrolled in a natural building apprenticeship in Flat Rock North Carolina.  Kelley learned a lot of techniques using natural materials as building materials and it helped to alter her views on sustainable architecture and design.  Since the apprenticeship, she likes to work through the education of natural building practices to reuse and recycle to make new works of art the community can enjoy.  Kelley believes we have an abundance of materials and resources around us to live a culturally enriched life. She focuses on projects that expose the surrounding community to this inviting type of building, to educate and open eyes to the potential. This empowers and reeducates the public on how little waste is actual trash. Kelley proceeds in her designs in a tactile, visually stimulating, and resourceful approach.  Kelley’s work can be seen at facebook.com/naturalbd 

For questions additional questions, please contact me. Thank you!



Intro Into Cob & Natural Building: How to Build a Cob Oven

When: Saturday, November 8, 2014; 9am – 6pm & Sunday, November 9th, 2014; 9am – 3pm  

Where: Andrew & Beth Payne’s Homestead; Wadmalaw Island, SC

What: This is a 2 day workshop where participants will learn the basics of building with Cob & other Earthen materials through the process of building a Cob Oven.  This is also an Intro into Natural Building class where other methods will be discussed during a presentation Saturday night, along with a provided meal.  A small library of Natural Building & Permaculture books will be provided for participant’s use during the weekend.  Participants will leave the workshop with the knowledge and confidence to build a Cob Oven, or a project of their own. Most importantly, participants will get very MUDDY and have loads of fun!!!

What’s provided: Workshop, Materials, Presentation on Saturday evening, Dinner Saturday night,  Books/Resources, Camping Amenities for Saturday night
*Children 14 & Under Free*
*it is recommended that participants join us for both days; due to limited time, content taught on Saturday will not be able to be repeated on Sunday*
Both Days: $85.00



Saturday Only: $55.00


Sunday Only: $40.00

RSVP:  Limited spaces available!!! This workshop is limited to the first 16 people to RSVP.  You must pay the fee to reserve your spot.  To reserve your spot, please pay with the PayPal link above and send an email to akatmagill@gmail.com should you have any questions. Thanks!!!

Additional Details: Additional details will be emailed to participants as workshop nears.
All participants will be responsible for providing their own food, aside from Dinner on Saturday night.
Participants are welcome to tent camp Saturday night.
Hope to see you there!!!

Cob Building Workshop

When: Saturday April 26 @ 9:00am – Sunday April 27 @ 4pm

Where: Brenda Starwalker’s Sukavah Bodeh

853 Farm Rd. St George. Ga. 31562

What: This is a continuation of the Skillful Living Workshops.  In part 1 we constructed an Adobe and Cob Garden Wall.  In part 2we finished the wall using all natural clay plasters and paints, and enhanced it with mosaics, bas relief, and more.  In this workshop, we will be building a bench on the inside of the Adobe/Cob wall; this bench will be made from salvaged tires and finished with Cob.  You will learn how to mix and identify a proper Cob mix using local earthen materials salvaged from south GA/north FL, and how to apply Cob over materials such as tires and metal wire, and how to sculpt the Cob into creative shapes and forms.  All participants will get plenty of hand’s on experience as well as discussion and question/answer time.  Leave this workshop with the knowledge and confidence to go home and start your own Natural Building project!

 What’s provided: workshop, materials, dinner saturday night, camping amenities (feel free to arrive as early as Friday evening and stay as long as Monday morning. Bring your own tent or camper; please message April if you’d like to come but do not have any camping supplies).  Plan to bring your own food for all other meals except for Saturday night’s dinner.

 $$$:   Both Days = $50.00 /person; Just Saturday = $30.00 /person ; Just Sunday = $20.00 / person

RSVP:  Limited spaces available! To reserve your spot, please email to akatmagill@gmail.com


Hope to see you there!!!


Firefly Gathering: Passive Solar Design & Natural Building Materials

When: June 20 – 23, 2013  

Where: Firefly Gathering

Click here for details.

Complete Cob & Remodeling

When: July 12, 2013 –  July 21, 2013  

Where: The Cob Cottage CompanyBandon/Coquille, OR

I will be co-teaching with Max & Eva Edleson of Firespeaking at this 10 day workshop; click here for details





Clay Plasters & Paints on a Cob Oven & Bench

When: Saturday May 11, 2013  10am – 6pm  

Where: Growing Spirit Kids Camp; 3941 Mary Anne Point Rd. John’s Island, SC

What:  Come out for a fun-filled day and help us to complete this little mud project at Willis’s Homestead. This is a Cob Oven & integrated Cob Benches made from all local, salvaged, and natural building materials. This project is for the Growing Spirit children’s camp.
This project has been built with volunteer labor and lots of love! Come out and help us finish up the project on Saturday May 11th from 10am – 6pm. Come for an hour or all day.

I will be teaching Clay Plasters, Clay Paints, Mosaics, and Finish…ing techniques using all local clay. These methods can be applied to conventional building as well (drywall, brick cinder block, etc.)
This is really fun, artistic work and very easy!
All of the hard, ‘grunt work’ is done and now it’s time to let your artistic side shine!

The cost is FREE!
We will end the day with an Oven Demonstration and cooking of personal size wood-fired pizzas! Please bring $10 if you plan to eat pizza.

Cool off & clean off in the fresh water pond at the end of the day!

Please RSVP and comment if you will be joining us for pizzas or not so that we know how many to plan for.

I hope to see you there!!!
All are welcome, please spread the word!


Earthen Plasters, Paints, & Mosaics: Finishing Techniques for a Natural Wall

When: Sat April 27, 2013; 10am – 6pm & Sun April 28, 2013; 10am – 2pm  

Adobe and Cob Wall Completed at 1st Workshop

Where: Brenda Starwalker’s Sukavah Bodeh

853 Farm Rd. St George. Ga. 31562

What: This is Part 2 of the Skillful Living Workshop listed below.  In part 1 we constructed an Adobe and Cob Garden Wall.  In this workshoplearn how to make ALL NATURAL plasters and paints from local clay, learn sculpting techniques, mosaics, and proper techniques for finishing and protecting a naturally built wall! Let your creativity shine!!!

What’s provided: workshop, materials, presentation on saturday morning, dinner saturday night, camping amenities
$$$:  Both Days = $100.00/person; Just Saturday = $75.00/person ; Just Sunday = $50.00/ person
Workshop Options
RSVP:  Limited spaces available! To reserve your spot, please pay with the PayPal link above and send an email to akatmagill@gmail.com should you have any questions. Thanks!!!
Hope to see you there!!!

Spring Equinox Natural Building Workshop, John’s Island, SC: March 23 – 24, 2013

Permaculture & Natural Building

North Florida’s first ever Permaculture and Natural Building event will take place from February 15th to the 18th at Brenda Starwalker’s Yurt Village AKA Yurt Ananda!

Brenda Starwalker’s Sukova Bodeh 853 Farm Rd., St. George, GA

Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th 10:00am – 5 pmPermaculture Zone 1 Gardening. Urban and Farm growing. We’ll go over the plants and what to do with them, how to plant them, how to keep them alive year round, how to harvest them for maximum yield, how to propagate and save seeds! MOST IMPORTANTLY we will learn what to UNLEARN about gardening.This will include swales, hügelkultur, keyhole gardens and layering systems. We will learn how to create and plant these systems. Learn about a SECRET compost/humus made of material laying around your land/yard that is more potent and unlike anything you can buy at the store.We will go over a good planting schedule for this area and there will be a perennial intensive that will have you going home with the knowledge of how to have food YEAR ‘ROUND without planting anything new!
Day 1 -We will create a hügelkultur keyhole garden and plant it. You won’t believe how amazing and easy this is.
Day2 -We will plant a fruit tree guild and go over all the plants that are involved and why they are necessary.Each student will be given a starter seed pack based on what we talk about in the class. You will go forth with everything you need to plant a healthy and productive garden!

Class cost is $75 for the weekend, per person. One class on Saturday and a repeat class on Sunday (if you attend the Saturday class, you are welcome to attend the Sunday class at no further cost.

In the Natural Building Workshop; we will be constructing an Adobe wall, sculpted and finished with Cob.
This natural garden wall will serve as the entry way into Sukova Bodeh, a future yoga and meditation space.
The wall will be an arched, 16′ wide x 8′ tall, curvy & organic structure with integrated benches and art.
$75/class; $100 for both

Day 1 – Project Adobe: Saturday 16th 10:00am – 5 pm

In a hand’s-on approach to learning, learn how to:

  • design and construct an Adobe wall made from all local & natural materials
  • proper foundation techniques and the best building methods for the local climate
  • construct buttresses and other stabilizing techniques for hurricane & seismic design
  • integrate rough cut round wood into the wall as a structural element
  • create arched openings
  • integrate windows, colored bottles, and more!

Day 2 – Project Cob: Sunday 17th 9am – 4pm

In a hand’s-on approach to learning, learn how to:

  • design and build with Cob using all local & natural materials
  • use Cob as a sculpting material over the Adobe wall to create soft curves, shapes, seats, and more!
  • sculpt profile and relief work into the Cob to create interesting ‘wall art’
  • integrate mosaics into the Cob
  • finishing techniques to smooth and fine tune
  • protection techniques for long-lasting Cob in the local climate
Both Natural Building classes will be taught by April Magill, an Architect and Natural Builder in Charleston, SC.  Learn more about April and her company, Root Down Designs, here: http://www.lowcountrynaturalbuilding.com/

Bonus Stuff!!!: Get a Yoga-ssage when you feel stiff. On-site there will be a trained natural healer ready to help work out the kinks. A reasonable price will be set at the site.

See an evening concert in the Yurt! There will be a concert and supper at the yurt after the day’s events! Talk to like-minded people around the roaring campfire.

This is the first of it’s kind in our area. Please consider supporting the efforts of those coordinating this event and consider coming.


YOUR SPACE IS SAVED ONCE YOU HAVE PAID FOR THE CLASS, SO PLEASE PAY IN ADVANCE TO BE SURE YOU CAN ATTEND. Please inquire about work-trade options 904-537-9876  Thank you!

To Pay: Please go to PayPal and send your payment to alexojeda@mac.com.

Cost: $75 each class

In your Paypal screen, please let us know what you are intending to attend so that we can mark you down, or you can get payment to us by emailing us alexojeda@mac.com and arranging a mailed check or a meeting.

If you are interested in camping or staying in one of the buildings (Yurt and Yome) on the property, please call Brenda Starwalker (her real name :) 904-699-5172

Spread the word!




Natural Building: Outdoor Kitchen!!! CobOven,Wood-Fired Stoves, Cob Countertops & More!!!

When: Saturday 10:00 am  - Sunday 2:00 pm; November 3-4, 2012

Where: Jacksonville, FL; Tim Armstrong’s 40 acre farm http://eatyouryardjax.com/

What: Come and join us as we build an outdoor kitchen for Tim’s farm!  There will be a cob pizza oven, several other kinds of wood-fired stoves, cob countertops & shelving, wine bottle work and more!  We will not finish the job all in 1 weekend, but we will have a variety of tasks happening all at once.

Cost: $75

Other details:  Primitive camping available at Tim’s farm; dinner provided Saturday night.  Come and experience Tim’s farm which includes great Permaculture examples as well as Aquaponics! Get muddy, sit around a camp fire, and learn how to build with natural materials with your own two hands!!!

Email me if interested: akatmagill@gmail.com

outdoor kitchen at the hostel in the forest



Natural Building: Earthen Plasters & More! September 15th

Come and join us for a fun (and muddy!) Saturday at The Hostel in the Forest in Brunswick, GA (3 hrs from Charleston)!!!!!!

April Magill, founder of Root Down Desgnswill be leading the group as we work to complete the massage studio started during the MUDDY WEEKEND RETREAT in July (view photos here).   In the July workshop we built with Cob,  Wattle-n-Daub, Wine Bottle work, and several other methods.

Come and join us on September 15th as we finish out the Earth work, transform, and beautify this structure through various Natural Building methods; learn how to:

earthen plaster

~ sculpt with cob              

~ Bas Relief work

~ prep and prepare earthen walls for finish plasters

~ Earthen Plaster (clay plaster)

~ Earthen Paints (clay paint)

~ Mosaic Work

~ Lime Wash

~……..and much more!!!

Participants will learn how to turn local soil and sand into building materials!  We will sculpt, design, and create together! All participants will gain the knowledge and confidence to return home and begin their own Natural Building projects!

Make a weekend of it and enjoy the pristine, beautiful, vast forests….hiking trails, swimming lakes, tree houses, and so much

sculpting/bas relief

more @ The Hostel in the Forest!


Saturday 8:45 am – meet in the library dome for a quick introduction & presentation

MUD WORK! – 9:30am – 6pm (bring a lunch and enjoy it while sitting next to the pool or lake)

Dinner & a tree house (lodging) provided by The Hostel in the Forest Saturday night



mosaic work

$75/person for Workshop which includes accommodation and dinner for Saturday night, all materials and instructions for the workshop

What else???

When you’re not building with mud, enjoy hiking through 133 acres of forested land, swimming in a fresh water lake, kayaking and canoeing, camping in a tree house, walking through the labyrinth, sitting next to the camp fire, and cooking in a cob kitchen!!! And much much more!!!

I hope to see you there!!!

To learn more about The Hostel in the Forest and to sign up for the workshop, visit http://www.foresthostel.com/


Natural Building: Muddy Weekend Retreat, July 13-15th

Come and join us for a fun (and muddy!) weekend at The Hostel in the Forest in Brunswick, GA (3 hrs from Charleston)!   April Magill founder of Root Down Desgns will be leading the group through an exploration of how we can build using local & natural materials! April will teach a hand’s on building practice using several different Natural Building methods. Techniques such as Cob, Wattle-n-Daub, Bamboo Wall/Cob Infill, Mosaic and Bottle Work, Earthen Plaster, and more will be taught and discussed. Participants will learn how to turn local soil and sand into building materials and how to harvest and use resources from the site such as Bamboo! We will sculpt, design, and create together! All participants will gain the knowledge and confidence to return home and begin their own Natural Building projects!


Arrive Friday afternoon/evening, July 13th

Dinner followed by a Presentation by April on Natural Building; Question & Answer session; Discussions about Building Codes and other Issues

Saturday work day 9am – 6pm (with lunch break)

Sunday partial work day 9am – 2pm (mid-morning snack)


$100/person for Workshop which includes accommodation, brunch and dinner during your stay, and all materials for the workshop

What else???

When you’re not building with mud, enjoy hiking through 133 acres of forested land, swimming in a fresh water lake, kayaking and canoeing, camping in a tree house, and cooking in a cob kitchen!!! And much much more!!!

I hope to see you there!!!

To learn more about The Hostel in the Forest and to sign up for the workshop, visit http://www.foresthostel.com/



AWENDAW GREEN!!! Wood-Fired Pizza Oven ~ Community-Build Workshop!!! 

What is an Earthen Oven?

An ‘Earthen Oven’ is an oven which cooks from retained heat (fueled by small kindling) and is made from a mixture of clay, sand, and staw.  The foundation is composed of all recycled/salvaged materials (all local to the region).  This style of cooking is indigenous to many cultures all over the world and still used by many cultures today.   Being that these ovens are made of clay; they ‘breathe’….creating the most delicious, crispy outside-moist inside, kind of food you can taste!  From 3 minute pizzas, to Thanksgiving Turkeys…the Earth Oven can cook anything your conventional oven will….just better!!!

Check out Michael Pollan’s New York Times article about his Earth Oven Experience!

Why Awendaw Green???

Well, we all know Eddie White, right?  Eddie has created Awendaw Green and the Wednesday night Barn Jams; community-events, donations only…bring your lawn chair and a cooler, kick back and listen to live music.  Eddie wants us to have happy stomachs, so 3 minute pizzas sound like the way to go! Community Ovens also mean….if you have something to cook, throw it in!  Wood-fired and tasty!

Check out my blog, as well as this page, for more info on this awesome oven we will be constructing, as well as recipes from my own back yard oven!

 “The Earth Oven just makes cooking fun again!” ~ Anne Pugh Jones




What You Will Get By Attending This Workshop

~ An introduction into Natural Building, the materials, and techniques

~ Learn how to build one of these ovens in your own backyard!

~ A small-scale, hand’s-on, learning opportunity for what can be done at much larger scales

~ An opportunity to build, side-by-side, with other members of our community

~ Feel good about supporting such a good cause, and help make it possible for more Community-Built Project to happen around Charleston!

What to Expect

- Be prepared to get MUDDY!!!

- Show up between 9am – 10am; enjoy some coffee and meet your fellow mud builders.  We’ll get started at 10am and keep going until 6pm, or until we’re and tired and feel like stopping

- we’ll get the first two layers of the oven built as well as a roof structure; it will take another 1 or 2 sessions to complete the whole oven.

- Directionshttp://www.awendawgreen.com/contact-and-directions/      pull into the Sewee Outpost and then head right, across the field. You’ll see a shady area with an old barn, this is us!

- Food: bring a cooler with whatever food and beverages you’d like

- $$$:  Suggested $20 Donation ~ Kids are free!

As much as I’d like to work for free, the real world will not allow me to do so.  Past workshops have allowed me to see that it takes 80+ hours of my time to coordinate, promote, plan, gather materials, teach, clean up, etc. + gas back and forth from the site + any last minute materials we cannot find salvaged.   My intention and goal is to provide this service FREE and OPEN to the public!!!  Your generous donation will allow me to create more events like this in the future.

- Come for the day, come for a short time… just come! Bring the kids, make a day out of it, have fun!

please shoot me a quick email…just so I can have a GENERAL idea of how many people we will have.  Be sure to check out the links I posted up above for pictures from past workshops and more info on these ovens.

I hope to see you there! Happy Muddin’!!!


THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to the following generous sponsors who are helping to make this event a reality.  Please be sure to support these folks when you can!

AIA Charleston



The Gullah Geechee Angel Network






Urban PolyCulture


Thank you BUCK LUMBER for our oven roof supplies!!!

…and Thank you Rebecca at the SUSTAINABLE WAREHOUSE for the roof metal!!!