I'm Tom Taber and live in Fredericksburg, Texas. I came across your site a few weeks ago while researching Rocket Mass Heaters. I have got to say that this community is Super Impressive! I'm very excited to learn from this group and help out in any way that I can. I'm part of a organization that builds homes, schools and such, all over the world from compressed earth blocks (www.EarthBlockInternational.com). These are extremely complimentary to the technology of rocket mass heaters because they are also naturally made, massive structures. We are excited to implement these heaters, and possibly other innovations, in our homes this year.
We are in the process of buying 6.5 acres of beautiful and somewhat remote land near Fredericksburg (see here http://youtu.be/Bc6tZfi5kzQ ) to build a small eco-village where we will practice permaculture. We have a gardener amongst our group, but we have much to learn from Permies. We intend to have interns that are interested in learning about compressed earth block technology, perhaps as early as this summer. We will be living in Tipis this summer as we build.
I'm super grateful for this community and hope to do more. I just pledged $60 to Paul's Kickstarter last night and can't wait to get the DVDs and start tinkering with rocket mass heaters.
When you have time we would love to hear more about your projects.
You could post in our woofers forum if you need helping hands, you could start a projects thread , you could tell us about living in the tipis (have you seen the tipi thread about the folks living in one at Pauls lab?)
And we also have a few threads around that talk about compressed blocks that you could lend your expertise to.
I have only scratched the surface of the vast Permies site, so it's great to know about these nooks and crannies. I am certainly happy to join in any conversations were I might have some applicable knowledge. I also happen to work with a twenty year veteran of compressed earth block technology, Jim Hallock. So he can help out as well.
I had no idea that you guys had a woofers forum - that's awesome! My friends own about 5 very large tipis that they used in cross country trail rides on horseback. They have spent many months living in them and also transporting them. They will be bringing them out from Oregon to put on the land. I'm not an expert at them, but I will have them join Permies too.
I up late working on a presentation right now, but I hope to dive deeper into the world of permies after it is done. Thanks for reaching out!
Hey Tom, I'm excited to hear about your ecovillage! Permaculture seems to be catching on a bit in Texas. I'm in Columbus, TX, which is a couple hours from y'all, but my mom lives in Austin, which is closer. I don't know if you are familiar with the Permaculture Global site, but you can make a profile and list your projects (like the ecovillage) and network with people who are in similar locations, climates, etc. or who are doing work you're interested in, as well as finding PDCs, WWOOFers, etc. The URL is http://permacultureglobal.org/
Just for the heck of it, in case you find it useful, here's a link to a list I've been compiling in Google docs for myself of useful Texas natives. It focuses on edibles, but it's also got carnivorous/insectivorous natives (for mosquitoes, haha), and I'm starting to look into phytoremediators to clean up polluted soils. I actively update it most days so it is ever-growing. I'm not a native plant purist, but I do like to give them a leg up when I can.
Thanks for the suggestion on the PRI profile. I just created one and sent you a message there too. Your plants spreadsheet is very cool. I've been looking for something like that. I will let you know if I come across more plants to add to your list.
My friends and I are a week away from buying our 7 acres and are very excited to dig in and get started. There's a lot of work to do! Here's a video that shows the land in it's current state (well, actually it's much greener since I shot this video a few months ago):
I'm planning on going the the Austin Permaculture Guild's PermaBlitz this weekend. It's just east of Austin. Let me know if you want to meetup there. It should be very cool and great way to learn while volunteering.
Awesome; welcome to Permies, Tom! Mighty glad to have you.
I've been interested in CEBs for a while, and I even built a Cinva-RAM. So I'm excited to have you around. Can I start with an easy question? I had a quick glance around ErthBlockInternational.com. Have you all ever insulated the outside of a block wall? How'd you do it?
First, I want to apologize for our website. We are in the midst of a major overhaul and upgrade. We will have the new site up soon.
That's amazing that you've built a cinva ram. They are super tough machines, but also a bear to operate. Have you used it to build anything?
Jim has insulated many of the buildings he has built, depending on the climate. It can be done with very unsustainable products, such as polystyrene sheets or spray foam insulation, but the idea is to use something more natural that is still effective. We have a friend in northern Canada that is planning on building with CEBs that are insulated with rock wool panels, which are much more sustainable. Our lab was recently sent two bags of cork and lime based insulation (Diathonite Evolution) from a company in Italy called Diasen. We have not started testing it, but we think it might be great. We have worked with insulation grown from mushroom mycelium. It is very cool stuff, but we can't find a source for pre-made panels of it and it's cumbersome to produce in-house.
A common way that we build with CEBs in cold climates is to build a double wall with a four to six inch gap between the walls. This gap can be filled with various types of insulation. You could use things such as vermiculite, pummice, cellulose or one of the unsustainable types. We do recommend that the insulation be breathable, because the walls are, and it would be a shame to block the transfer of water vapor through the wall.
I'm glad you're excited about compressed earth blocks and am looking forward to some great conversations.
Very cool video of your place in Fredericksburg! Oak trees and a creek--two of my top requirements for happiness. I bet you can't wait to start developing that land. I can't leave the home place right now (my dad recently had surgery), but I will let some of my friends/family in Austin know and see if they are interested. I am going to go check out some of your earth block videos now--I have been planning on building a small house for myself, probably cob, but I will have to look into earth block building more--I don't know much about it currently.