APRIL 2023 Worktrade / Sustainable Skills Program

APRIL 2023 Worktrade / Sustainable Skills Program 2560 1920 Strawbale Studio

APRIL 2023 was a rich time with 3 wonderful folks (Chris, Brittany & Eva) helping with building projects & grounds at Strawbale Studio.  During this WorkTrade Program they learned a variety of sustainable skills, and were provided with basic room & board.  Below is a ..

WEEKLY BLOG for the APRIL 2023 Worktrade / Sustainable Skills Program by BRITTANY TERRY

Mushroom Inoculation

April 2nd – 8 th , 2023

It’s been an exciting first week at Strawbale Studio. Deanne, Chris, Eva and Brittany got acquainted and we’re all excited to be around like-minded people chasing their dreams. We put our heads together and fixed up a gate, felled and processed 3 trees, learned how to build and fire up a little outdoor rocket stove, received a couple lessons in whittling, and we got to enjoy a Full Moon Potluck with some beautiful souls! We enjoyed delicious food, intelligent conversations and music around the bonfire. Earth Plastering in the Kids Cottage was started as we began to finish the plasters on the structure.  We learned how to test, mix and apply plasters in various applications: covering straw insulation, evening out the plaster wall, creating a “Truth Window” and more, This plastering continued over the next weeks of April, as part of our worktrade contribution. We also got to help host a mushroom inoculation workshop with a group of amazing folks who really enjoyed being together with the land and each other in this creative process.

Making COB!

April 9th – 15th

This week we fixed the hydrology of the lane by digging trenches down the driveway to lead water to the ponds out front and filling in holes in the driveway with rock. We got the waterfall up and running after cleaning out the winter leaves and installing the recirculating pump. Our friend Brandon came to visit and see what The Strawbale Studio is all about; he helped us mix up some cob and we did some sculpting together. We foraged some garlic, mushrooms, sage and other delicious plants from the property to make some omelets, using eggs from a friend down the road. We started to repair the kids cottage this week, worked on the trim and the truth window. A class from Upland Hill School come to visit us this week. The kids got a tour of the property, then they were ready to learn how to make cob. They gathered in four groups and took turns shoveling cob into wheel barrels, sifting the dirt, mixing, and making balls out of the cob. This was a eye opening, and emotional moment for me to see the youth being taught these skills. This is what we need as a society. We need not only the youth, but adults to understand they can build their own homes, we can build communities. We are capable of working together to figure out what works and what does not. We do not have to live in the ‘social norm’. Knowledge is power, and education goes a long way. Once you learn how to do something you can start applying it and the possibilities are endless. We just need to keep passing the education along.

My favorite event of the week was the Dreaming into Being Potluck. It was a beautiful event. We brought and shared food with friends and started with a great conversation. Then everyone went their own way into the woods or in the house to put time and energy into their dreams. Some did art, some journaled, some practiced teaching classes and envisioned themselves in the role they want to play in life. After we were finished we all met up and each person got to talk about their experience or project. Friends in the group gave some feedback and ideas to help the person sharing. This was a great skill building event and I can’t wait to host potlucks like this when I return home.

April 16th– 22nd

Week three we learned how to make an adhesion coat to be able to sculpt on drywall. We had a fun night sculpting our own pictures on drywall boards we prepped previously. We learned some lashing techniques, processed the “worm compost”, inoculated the rest of the logs from the trees we felled from week one, sculpted some bricks, and learned how to make a smooth finished plaster for walls. Upland Hill School invited us for lunch and the kids gave us a tour around the school. It was awesome!! They are kind, intelligent kids and they are encouraged to take charge and empowered to make decisions on aspects of their school life. They have yoga classes, community class, and archery, amongst other unique offerings. Notably, each student either by themselves or in a group, have built their own natural buildings in the woods on the school property. They work together to solve problems that may arise in their community that is called “Woodville”. One of my favorite collaborative solutions they came up with is a rule, an agreement, that no one may own more than four pieces of land; I’m thinking that is just what we need in America right now. I hope we can get to a place where we are thinking similarly to this as a whole country. These kids are very lucky to be attending Upland Hills, and I hope to see more schools following this example in the future.

April 23rd– 29th

Week four we started working on a small model of an outdoor Japanese-style gazebo. It is really fun to put our ideas together and create something beautiful, utilizing the resources we have at home. We had a hands-on lesson on thatching a roof this week, we used the dehydrator a lot this month and made different flavors of oat crackers, dehydrated pineapple was so delicious!! Received was a lesson on living roofs which was really fun to learn about. On our last night we were taught how to fire up the cob oven and made delicious pizza’s. At dark, we lit some candles, each got an instrument to play and we walked around the property to give our thanks and recognition to every structure, remembering the lessons we learned, and the laughs we had. Ceremony was such a beautiful energy and I am so grateful Deanne includes this event!!

Living at Strawbale Studio feels timeless, and it has gone by so fast. Not having to worry about time feels so good. Not being in a rush is such a different feeling from the every day rise and grind of a job and daily life. At the same time; time has a nurturing flow here. We come together at agreed upon times to cook, eat and do projects; we are also responsive to the weather, our personal needs and things that come up. It feels so good to have this flexible relationship with time. We have all learned a lot from each other and so much from Deanne!! I am forever grateful to have had this experience with the four of us. I am thankful for the knowledge I have acquired from this internship.

It’s sad to see this month is coming to an end, our time with each other is getting shorter and shorter. The four of us have really gotten to know each other this month. I am grateful to have spent this time with such amazing, and loving humans. I gained 3 wonderful new friendships and I hope to see them all again one day and possibly have some building projects we could work on in the future together

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!

Always remember to love life, dance in the rain, soak up the sun, give gratitude as often as you can. Love our fellow humans, follow your heart and chase your dreams!!

-Brittany <3




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LIST OF ACTIVITIES during the April 2023 Work/Skill Program


    • Oak Tree felling & Processing by solar collector
    • 2nd oak by the south side of house.
    • 3rd oak on Mid Meadow during workshop. Process later.
    • Set up tools and materials!
  • COURTYARD GATE ~ big repair!
  • Supply runs for tools and groceries
  • STICKS & STALKS. Rose, cup plant, SE garden clearing. Rose path. All.
  • BENCH fixed! Chris.
  • Rebuild on the little OUTDOOR ROCKET COOKER.
    • mp4 of Strawbale Studio 15 min video to Crazy Wisdom Calendar! Eva
    • develop SBS Instagram for tours, and train Deanne! Eva
    • ATT Router & new Verizon Router. All try and assess.
  • PREP for FULL MOON POTLUCK Sweep buildings, prep fires. Beauty in house. All.


  • 2 WHITTLING lesson! Knife, chopstick and spoon carving with wood.
  • OAT MILK & OAT FIBER CRACKERS in the blender then the dehydrator.
  • FULL MOON POTLUCK! extensive bonfire, music, conversations. food!
  • TRIPS off-site: Arcade & pizza, coffee house,
  • LEARN how to use a CHAIN SAW and FELL A TREE.
  • FULL MOON ZOOM happened. Option. Intern did a little “check in” appearance.
  • Hammock hanging hunting, slack line hunting.


  • DRIVEWAY DRAINAGE – dig drainage trenches, fill low holes in lane with stone/dirt.
  • WATERFALL INSTALLATION + leaf removal!
  • Cut MID-MEADOW OAK to firewood and mushroom logs
  • KIDS COTTAGE PLASTERS: Seal up the straw chinking insulation on interior north + south, and East + West Gable ends.
  • Upland Hills School Field Trip, Tour & Cob Class. Brittany supports “student digging teams”.
  • CLEARING GARDENS: Astilbe stalks, cup plant stalks & Sun root stalks to kindling. Leaves to compost pile!
  • TECHIE: Instagram – moving ahead. poster on picsart. odt to jpg. Eva


  • COB CLASS! How to test, make “pookies”, bricks, shake test.
  • ADHESION COAT lesson, and drywall prep. Learn to make & apply starch paste.
  • EARTH SCULPTING on drywall. Lesson on how to apply & SCULPT IN PERSPECTIVE.
  • FORAGING for dinner: wild garlic, dandelion, ox eye daisy, oyster mushroom
  • WOOD WHITTLING! spoon, mushroom, cinnamon roll, chop sticks.
  • “Dream in Being” support group gathering at Michael and Betsy’s’
  • Using the ELECTRIC FOOD GRINDER to grind Buckwheat.
  • BUCKWHEAT PANCAKES ~ Successful Experiment by Intern.
  • Brandon visits, joins in Cob mixing.
  • Upland Hills teacher and student brought us a special lunch & then worked with us in Kids Cottage,doing earth plaster. Interns helped them with the mix.
    • Made oat crackers.
    • 8 plant vegie salad with rice + beans !
    • BUCKWHEAT PANCAKES with almond flour!
    • Tried salted raw sun root. Then Cooked Sun root with butter, garlic, lemon dip.
  • Sauna Fire…went over details of how to fire up.
  • OFF-SITE Adventures: Reptile house, Detroit pizza.
    • Drinking & pool at an Arcade Bar. Several Pool Tournaments.



  • KIDS COTTAGE PLASTER ~ continued: Earth Plaster over the straw insulation chinking. Interior & exterior.
  • WORM COMPOST Processing.
  • GREEN LAKE HOUSE WOOD – clearing, stacking, beauty & order!
  • NVC Compassionate Communication class (counted as worktrade)


  • CO-MODEL of outdoor gazebo.
  • View Video by Rich Points – his straw mattress on Rocket Stove Mass heater
    • Brandon joins for part. See WoodsVille, The Ecological Awareness Center, Great Lunch!
  • FINISH PLASTER CLASS- Burnish + Sponge Finish on a Cob Brick.
    • Adhesion Coat Class, apply to drywall.
    • Demo of applying earth sculpting mix to board.
    • Perspective guidelines. Far away (behind & higher in the picture) Close up ( in front and lower in the picture. Note techniques for mountains, tree, tent, mushroom demo.
  • NVC Class ~ Compassionate Communication class. Counted as Worktrade.
  • Emails to Intern:
    • Compassionate Communication, and a link to All Strawbale Studio Handouts.
  • LASHING CLASS & hands-on. Learn the Clove Hitch, Japanese Square Knot.


    • North side, cut down vines and stalks, consolidate soil from pots, stack all containers by size.
    • REMOVE PLASTIC COVER of greenhouse! Lay on ground on cleared N. side to suppress plant growth and keep area clear.
    • Fall 2023 goal: poison ivy removal, repair wood frame, install new plastic.
  • CEDAR CABIN Beauty & Order – Brittany.
  • ROUND SIGN to the HOUSE! By Chris, Eva and Brittany!
  • COMPUTER HELP & printer help from Eva! Continuing!
  • TREE CLEARING on LANE. Chainsaw to firewood, limbs and branches to bundled firewood.


  • LIVING ROOF class, tour & generate ideas of how to build a living roof on the Cedar Cabin
  • STRAWBALE: Overview of Strawbale Construction at the Skill Building for Brittany. Stack, secure, railroad tracks,
  • BOTTLE WINDOW tour & talk.
  • Whittling wood – continued! Spoons & Chopsticks.
  • Cording, a wee bit. Using Day Lilly00 leaves and prepping Dog Bane fiber.
  • PIZZA in the EARTH OVEN! Fire it up, soak the wood door,
  • CO-MODEL of outdoor gazebo. Open, Triangle shape with a curved roof, continued.
  • Dehydrated pineapple, Brittany, DB makes sweet oat crackers with dried pineapple.
  • CAMPFIRE BY THE BOG ~ Interns enjoyed in the evening.
  • CLOSING CEREMONY. Walking at night with candles to the places we worked and played, the things we did.
  • OUTDOOR ROCKET COOKER WORKSHOP Build/Workshop (an optional add-on)


Kids Cottage & Chris