We are super excited to be collaborating with Liz Johndrow of Earthen Endeavors Natural Building and Charlie Rendall of Return to the Forest for 12 days of hands-on and feet-in learning, classroom theory, slide presentations, community clay art project, and an inspiring field trip. You will also have a tour of Atitlan Organics and learn a bit of the history and philosophy on the farm. We will cover everything earth, lime & clay from site selection, foundations and load bearing and non load-bearing earthen wall systems, to the fine art of clay sculpting, Moroccan tadelakt, and finish plasters and paints. You will want to join us for this opportunity unlike any other!
Why Study Natural Building at Atitlan Organics
We could mention that when you book a course with us, you stay at the amazing Bambu Guest House, which is itself an amazing example of natural building that is clean, modern, and comfortable. We could mention that the food you are served is almost exclusively raised by Atitlan Organics and prepared by the master hands of several local, internationally trained chefs. But really, you study natural building in order to learn. And we could not be more excited about the line up of professional, internationally recognized natural builders who will be facilitating our workshops. Liz and Charlie bring expertise, passion, fun and serious learning opportunities to their teaching.
I enjoy spaces that bring me in touch with my natural surroundings. As a builder, I was thrilled to discover I could bring that contact deeper into my home experience through my choice of building materials. Since that discovery, I have been exploring the world of cob, strawbale, adobe, earthbag, earthen plasters and floor systems, and timber framing. The simplicity of these systems and materials allow for people of all ages and abilities to participate. The past few years have taken me further into the role of teacher, facilitator, instructor and co-conspirator. I am increasingly passionate about helping others learn these skills so they in turn can share their vision of beautiful, sustainable, and socially just structures. My more recent work in Nicaragua with the women and youth in the northern pueblos has been my most challenging and rewarding work thus far.
Thanks to Liz for this collaboration. We could not be more excited! Liz seems to empower all who listen to her, while she is incredibly humble and very easy to talk to, even as a beginner. Her work also speaks for itself. Check out a few of her projects here:
Charlie has been building houses and landscaping gardens in San Marcos La Laguna, Guatemala for eight years. He tried just about every natural building method he could before settling on bamboo and mud as his favorites. He gave his first Bamboo Building Course in 2008 and loves helping others learn how build their own houses. Originally from London, England, Charlie holds a Masters Degree in Social Anthropology, and has studied Buddhism, Yoga, business and social development in India. For several years he taught transferable skills development to postgraduates at University College London before meeting his wife and becoming technical director at her arts education project, La Cambalacha.
More of Charlie's work can be found at his website: www.returntotheforest.org
6:45 (45min) Breakfast
7:30 (15min) Walk to Site
7:45 (2.5h) Practical #1
10:15 (30m) Snack, Breaktime
10:45 (2.5h) Practical #2
13:15 (2h) Lunch
15:15 (1h) Review/Check-In
16:15 (1h) Lecture
17:15 (1.25h) Free Time
18:30 (1h) Dinner
19:30 (1h) Movie/Activity/Rest
Day 1: Introduction to one another and site orientation. How to test clay soils. Mix some mud and make some bricks. Evening slideshow the basics clay/lime/aggregates/fibers
Day 2: Foundations and prepare materials for wall systems. presentation/class foundations
Day 3 : Wall systems Class loadbearing vs non loadingbearing bamboo bent with Charlie?
Day 4: Wall systems infills
Day 5: Plaster community project
Day 6 : Wall systems infills continued
Day 7: Field trip short day
Day 8: Repair and plaster on existing building
Day 9: Plaster and continue wall systems
Day 10: Adobe benches
Day 11: Tadelakt project and day
Day 12: Community sculpting
Lodging and Food
The food and The Bambu Guest House spoiled me! Antonio and Juana are angels." Zsofi, Czech Republic, Class of March 2015
Permaculture Design Courses have always been known for their excellent, organic, locally grown food and our courses are no exception. Atitlan Organics works closely with the Bambu Guest House, which is a five minute walk from the farm and the place where the participants stay for the duration of the course. The Bambu Guest House has a Farm to Table Restaurant that serves up delicious and filling plates mainly composed of Atitlan Organics and other local farm products. Currently, Atitlan Organics supplies all of the milk, yogurt, cheese, salads, cooking greens, honey, coffee, chicken, taro root, pigeon peas, and herbs to the Bambu Guest House Restaurant. The restaurant is run by three young, local, aspiring chefs named Antonio, Juana, and Petrona, all only 19 years old. They are amazing! Beyond the food, the Bambu Guest House is a brand new, natural building boasting bathrooms and balconies in each room, new comfy beds, wifi, super hot water, and amazing views of the lake, mountains, and rivers. The Bambu Guest House is proof that natural building can be clean and luxurious. Lodging is shared, but private rooms are also available for an additional charge. All food, snacks, coffee, tea, and frescos are included in the weeklong permaculture course, as well as lodging for the duration at The Bambu Guest House. Three meals a day are served, buffet style, as well as coffee and tea throughout most of the day and daily snacks as well. Basically, you are well-fed and well-kept. It feels soo nice! If you are interested in private housing, please mention that to us when you write.
Travel and Logistics
The workshop always starts on Sunday afternoon. Participants are expected to arrive by 4pm, but are welcome to come and check in at the Bambu Guest House any time throughout the day. Once the course starts, all food, lodging, training, and travel is covered and included in the cost of the workshop. We often travel on local pickups, which makes all excursions fun and exciting. Adventure travel for sure! The intensive ends on a Saturday a noon, following a big brunch, student presentations, and goodbyes. We can help arrange shuttles to/from the airport, Antigua, or anywhere else for that matter. Just let us know if you need this service. Upon writing us to express interest, we will send an FAQ and a food allergy questionnaire. We can accommodate almost all requests including vegan, gluten free, vegetarian, etc.
Coming from Antigua, you would go to Panajachel, which is one of the three big towns on the lake and takes about 3 hours to arrive. From Panajachel, you take a boat (lancha) at the public dock. Tell the captain that you are going to the town of Tzununa (zoo-new-nah) which is three public stops from Panajachel. Get off at the Public Dock in Tzununa and take a Tuk Tuk or little three wheeled car and tell them you want to go to El Bambu. It costs q5 per person per tuk tuk and should be around q15 to q20 per person for the Lancha ride. When you get to El Bambu, go through the gate and up to the main building. Someone will show you your room. As noted, we are in the little town of Tzununa, quiet and still 'undiscovered'. From the guest house you are less than 10 minute walk to the lake and less than 20 meters from beautiful rivers. You are a 45 'minute walk or a 10 minute tuk tuk ride away from the town of San Marcos la Laguna. This has many places to eat, drink, practice yoga, etc. Again, we can help you get to the lake from Antigua or the airport, or from anywhere. Just let us know and we can arrange a shuttle for you.
The cost of the 2 week Natural Building Course is Q7500 or $985 per person. This ticket is for a non-refundable $250 Course Deposit. The remaining balance of $735 can be paid in cash or throught credit card upon arrivel. This includes 13 nights and 14 days stay at the Bambu Guest House, plus all three meals a day, snacks, coffee and tea. It also includes the facilitation, all field trips and travel, plus course material, note packets, and other electronic information.