This article on cob building & permaculture came to me recently & thought I'd share:
Wisps of wind whip soft sand up from a private road that began in and meanders to what could rightfully be labeled the middle of nowhere.
Low-slung buildings creep into view between the squat, stocky vegetation that covers the desert hills outside of Cuyama. Goats snack on shrubs, and a couple of white sheep dogs bound next to the car, barking. A trail takes visitors from the parking area to an office constructed of straw bales coated in clay soil, sand, and straw.
"Welcome to Quail Springs," a sign says.
Soft, weathered earthen walls the same color as the hillsides line the planters that border an outdoor common space. Chickens cluck away in the large coop below, and Creedence Clearwater Revival wonders "Who Stopped the Rain?" through the walls of a yurt that houses a kitchen.
"Welcome to the farm," Quail Springs Executive Director Janice Setser says.
This experiment in sustainable living is part educational experience, part trial and error, part social exercise. The life on this 450 acres in California's high desert is complex with many layers, Setser says. And it's extreme, with temperature swings that come with snow, ice, and blistering heat from winter to summer. Containing a farm, a greenhouse, composting toilets, yurts, naturally crafted buildings, 11 staff members, a handful of interns who come and go, and lots of outdoor space, permaculture is at the heart of everything that's done around here.
"[Society has] separated things out so specific and specialized," Setser says. "And permaculture is just putting it all back together again."