Blog post by intern Stephanie Sykes
When my husband Malte and I stumbled across the Strawbale Studio website in our search for sustainability education programs, we were immediately captivated by the pictures of magical-looking strawbale and cob buildings.
“We have to go there,” we agreed, not knowing then that we would have the chance to learn about so much more than strawbale and cob at this natural building oasis.
In March 2019 Malte and I began a year-long trip around North America to experience different types of sustainable living. Our goal? To figure out how we want to live on our own future homestead and gain the skills to be able to do so.
Three months later we found ourselves driving down the forested path towards the main building at Strawbale Studio. We felt like we were being transported into a different world! It was clear that our time here would be full of opportunities to learn and reflect on how to live a sustainable life in tune with nature.
The very next morning we were swept up into the enthusiastic learning environment created by Chris McClellan (aka Uncle Mud) at a Rocket Stove Workshop held at Strawbale Studio, where we met many people passionate about creative solutions to environmental challenges. We went into the weekend as total rocket stove novices and came out confident in the basics of rocket stove design and use.
But the learning didn’t stop there! The following weeks were full of enriching natural building and worktrade activities. We learned how to apply earth plasters and floors in the hobbit sauna, installed windows in the intern getaway cabin with local carpenter and friend of Deanne’s Gene Vilenni, and cared for the saplings in the Strawbale Studio agro forest.
Our evenings were spent chatting with our fellow interns and Deanne, often while working on whittling projects. Community members also dropped in to share their own perspective on sustainable and community living.
A personal highlight for us was learning the basics of thatching. Deanne guided us expertly through the process of thatching a small practice frame and encouraged us to keep exploring the process by lashing and thatching our own A-frame. I can already picture the thatched wood shelter and workshop buildings at our future homestead!
Our month as interns at Strawbale Studio was a truly immersive experience in sustainable living that taught us skills for leading a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle. Thanks Deanne and everyone else who made our stay here so enjoyable!
Stephanie and Malte are the authors of the blog Wanderjahre, which documents their journey around North America to learn more about living sustainably and having fun while doing it!