In this Straw Bale News:

  • Organic Vegie Garden Workbee on Sat 18th August in Lawson
  • Straw Bale Building Course, Fri 31st August to Sun 2nd Sep, at Mudgee
  • The ripper of a straw bale workshop we had at Glen Davis, see before and after photos
  • Straw Bale Demonstrations at the field days (we rendered the huts)
  • Sustainable House Day Sun 9th September, straw homes open houses
  • Last months for 50% off organic linen Viva special
  • What Makes an affordable strawbale home
  • Free Mulch!

Organic Vegie Garden Workbee

@ Lawson in NSW,  Sat 18th August 2012

Come join us for an exciting day in the Blue Mountains and learn how to build your own organic vegie garden.

Gordon Williams, owner of Free Range Food Gardens> will be running this workbee at our own straw bale home. Gordon designs, creates and teaches permaculture (natural way of gardening without pesticides) and has been creating organic food gardens for over a decade.

You will see how and why Gordon creates a garden design and the elements needed to build your own organic vegie garden. From there you will then get hands on experience (you’ll get dirty!) by building a vegie garden from start to finish.

In exchange for your hard work there is no charge for this course. Lunch and morning/ afternoon teas will be provided.  The day will run from 8am to 5pm.

Places are limited – if you can attend for the whole day please book in.

You’ll just need to bring: work clothes/boots, gardening gloves and a keen spirit for working and learning

Just book in with us via e-mail and tell us: your name, phone number, email address, dietary or any special requirements.

We hope you can make it to this wonderful event.

Straw Bale DemonstrationsWe’ve been running straw bale demonstrations at the Mudgee Field Days for the past 5 years. We put a finish coat of render on the straw bale hut, held demonstrations and talks about natural and sustainable buildings. Photos of the Mudgee field days on facebook

What Makes an Affordable Strawbale HomeWe’ve listed just some of the things that people want in their home which make it more expensive or tricky to build. By including these items, it doesn’t make your home affordable or cheap to build:

Pavilion style where there are numerous dwellings. This is because there are more external walls and roof area

Large verandahs or decks as the materials are costly
Internal wall heights are greater than 2460mm (working at heights is dangerous and time consuming which then affects the cost to build)
A roof that cannot use trusses eg. Celestial windows or raked/exposed rafters, loft areas
The use of box gutters or rooves which can leak into a house (as they are notorious for leaking, they cost more to build to get right)
Straight-straight finish to the straw bale rendered walls (the straighter the walls, the more work)
A large home eg. Lots of square metre age. The bigger the house, the more it costs
Upstairs, lofts, two storey as scaffolding is necessary and working at heights
Being in town rather than rural zoning – regulations are a lot less stringent in rural areas
Remote areas (no trades nearby and transport for materials costs more)
Strict local or other government rules eg. Need for Wildlife Report, Geotech Report etc complying to their regulations often increases costs
Bushfire zone especially flame zones (BAL29 and above) more costs to comply
Lots of windows as glazing is expensive
Options for windows eg. low e glass, double glazing; bifold/concertina doors; composite windows are also expensive options
Additional services eg. Hydronic under slab heating, CBUS electrics, air conditioning, voltaic solar panels, wet back heaters, septic tanks and so forth
Water tanks under a house or buried (costs to excavate). Concrete tanks are costly
When a house isn’t designed around the straw bales this increases building costs as the materials have to be made for the design rather than vice versa.
Access to site can also be costly. You may have to provide gravel, road base or other solution to get access to site
Not having services to the house site (the cost to run electricity or other services to the house can sometimes be prohibitively expensive)
The number of wet areas (eg. Bathrooms as they are not cheap to build)
Finishings you choose such as tap ware, kitchen items, wood fire, lighting etc

50% Off Organic LinenLast months for getting 50% off the RRP of organic linen Click here >for an order form. Send it into them and they will contact you for payment. Valid till 30th September 2012. No pesticides are used.  They are crisp, thick sheets & linen you will love (we don’t get a commission, they’re just great value organic sets)

The Ripper of a Straw Bale Workshop 

From this:


To this in one 4 day workshop:


Thank you to all of the hard working workbee-ers who gave it their all and raised all of the strawbale walls and tensioned them on the second day.


Having great helpers was one of the main reasons it was so productive. As we were able to design the house around our specially designed straw bale wall frames, it made it so much easier and quicker. All of the straw bales were constructed and tensioned, the walls were trimmed and filled ready for rendering. We started rendering the internal walls on the second day and ¾ of the cob earth walls were completed.


This was one of the most productive workshops ever! Well done to all of those who worked and thank you to those who gave it your all, we couldn’t have done it without you. From Jane and Neil to the Team at Viva, we sure hope you learned lots and had a great time. Photos of the workbee on facebook >