New Date for the Cob B&B (Build-and-Bake) Workshop: Learn to Build a Cob Oven and Bake with it!

Cobbing doesn’t get any easier than at this 3 day Cob B&B (Build-and-Bake) Workshop, from August 21st to August 25th, 2011 on Lasqueti Island.

We’ll spend the first 2 days learning how to build a beehive oven out of cob, then we’ll learn how to use it and indulge in tasty treats as master baker Nadine Simpson shares her recipes and skill.

You’ll arrive on Sunday, August 21st, pitch your tent and settle in for a welcoming dinner.  The next 2 days we’ll hand sculpt an oven in the shape of a frog.  You’ll get a basic understanding of how to mix and use cob, an ancient building technique that is not only dirt cheap, it’s insect, rodent, earthquake and fire proof.  You’ll also learn how to mix and use natural plasters.

On our 3rd day, we’ll mozy on over to Nadine’s place to:

  • learn the basics of preparing the oven for baking,
  • discuss baking practices…mise en place, equipment, tools etc.
  • learn about breads, (yeasted and pre-ferments – sourdoughs, bigas, levain, etc.)
  • mix a sourdough bread (Rye)
  • learn to braid a challah and to make cinnamon buns
  • make and bake Pizzas/Calzones
  • bake sourdough and Peasant Breads
  • learn about using the oven for roasting vegetables, and other oven cooked meals.

Then, on Thursday, August 25th, we’ll share our farewell breakfast and depart.

The cost of $325 covers all meals (3 hot, fully organic vegan/vegetarian meals for 3 days, plus the welcoming dinner and the farewell breakfast), on-site camping with running water, and hands-on instruction.

Here’s some of the feedback that we’ve received from previous cob building workshop participants:

Transformative and empowering!” – Kate ’10.

Very instructive and hands-on.” – Matt ’10.

Learning what we needed to know as we put it to practical use rather than spending a lot of time on theory was a useful approach for me.” – Terry ’09.

Your cob oven building facilitator (Dave Olsen) completed a cob workshop in 1996 and has had mud on his hands ever since.  He has also led workshops on many other topics since 1994.  On Lasqueti Island, he has organized and co-led 5 cob workshops and finished three smaller buildings; he feels very fortunate to have worked with many of the leading cob builders of our time.

Our baking chef, Nadine Simpson began baking professionally in 1979 at Rising Star Wholefoods Bakery in Victoria BC, first as a member of the worker’s collective (PSC) that operated the business and later, (1981) as owner.  Since 1994 she has been living and baking on Lasqueti Island and has led cob oven baking workshops locally and in Baja California Sur, Mexico.

What else makes these courses special?

  • You will see firsthand how humans can build with what nature provides, without destroying the beauty that is offered.
  • You’ll also have many opportunities to master making cob itself. You’ll learn the “traditional” technique, known to cobbers throughout our wet coast, and we’ll learn how to modify it so that you can mix up to 4 times faster!
  • Not only will you learn how to build naturally and affordably, you’ll learn how to do it efficiently enough to be empowered to build on your own and keep your community of builders interested and inspired to keep building.

Travel days to get to and from the workshop are Sunday, August 21st (we’ll begin with a welcoming, organic and vegetarian/vegan dinner that evening) and Thursday, August 25th (a farewell breakfast will fuel your return to the ferry dock).

Every cob oven building day (Monday and Tuesday), we start with a short meditative building session, followed by an organic, hot wholesome breakfast.  Two longer hands-on learning sessions sandwich a hot organic, vegan lunch.

Most evenings, after a delicious dinner, we’ll have a discussion or mini-workshop on related activities, from ecologically-sensitive transportation to building a roof with cedar shakes.

Human-powered building is hard work. But since there are no machines or motors on site, it is a safe and quiet place for anyone, younger or older, and interesting conversation and laughter is common. This building site, and the materials for this building, were selected to make it as easy as possible to build an earthen structure.

The pace is casual but determined; the more effort you give, the more learning you will take away.  Natural Building is at least 95% experiential learning and you will be expected to self-motivate throughout the various scheduled sessions.

For more information and background, please visit:

To receive an application form, please email Dave: eec at resist dot ca.

Here’s hoping you can experience the beauty of natural building and cob oven baking soon!


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