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Strawbale House

Natural Building

Natural building involves a range of building systems and materials, with the main emphasis on sustainability. The basis of natural building is to lessen the environmental impacts of buildings, without letting go of comfort, health or aesthetics. The focus is durability and the use of minimally processed, locally available, renewable or recycled/salvaged materials that will create healthy living environments. Most often natural building relies more on human labour than technology, and takes the permaculture approach of looking at the local climate, characteristics of the building site, and needs of the users when developing the design. Re-evaluating how much space is really needed, and building compactly is also common, as well as handling energy and water capture on site.

At Little City Farm we have built structures with natural materials like cob and strawbale, and have plans for a "living roof" in 2009.

Cob Oven

Cob is a material consisting of clay, sand, straw and water, and is similar to adobe. Ideally all locally sourced materials can be used. Cob lends itself well to creative builders who enjoy serious hands-on work, as it can be shaped and sculpted into virtually any artistic shape. It is most often used to make cob ovens (as it is extremely fire resistant), cob sheds or small homes, and cob garden walls, benches or outdoor "furniture".

At Little City Farm we have built a cob oven in 2006, using sand from our own property, straw from a nearby farm, and reclaimed clay from a local pottery store. We made a bread oven based on the design of traditional bread ovens of Quebec, with a narrow doorway and no chimney. By making the appropriate ratio of height of door to dome, the smoke vents out nicely through convection currents. We bake frequently, especially in the summer months when we do not want to heat up our house (breads, pizzas, granola, cookies, dried tomatoes, and more all taste better when made in a wood-fired oven!)

Strawbale House Addition

Strawbale buildings provide exceptionally warm, durable, affordable, beautiful, quiet and environmentally sustainable spaces. Strawbales act as super insulation for load-bearing, stud frame, or post-and-beam construction, then are plastered with a variety of options including earth, lime or cement. This building technique offers hands-on opportunities for builders of all ages and levels of experience, is cost-effective, and provides a fairly speedy construction. Strawbale building can create large spaces such as homes, or small spaces such as studios, meditation huts, saunas, or bicycle sheds. By now there are hundreds, if not thousands, of strawbale buildings across North America.

In 2008 we added a 500 sq foot strawbale addition to our existing hundred-year old brick home. We wanted to learn about strawbale building, and were excited about the prospect of using mainly locally sourced materials as well as reducing our ecological "construction footprint". This new healthy living space also includes Durisol block foundation, radiant (hot water) floor heating, an earthen floor, passive solar gain from south facing windows, and natural hemp oil & milk paint finishes. Many volunteer hands helped throughout the building process and we are grateful for all the efforts! Read all about our strawbale building process on our Blog at

More information about Natural Building can be found on our Links section.

Passive Solar Greenhouse

We have built a passive solar greenhouse to grow greens all winter long, and seedlings in the spring. This space also includes a tiny studio/classroom where we host our workshops.

Living Roof

We are planning the design & installation of a native plant living roof as part of our new house addition! This roof is designed to help cool our home in hot weather, collect rainwater, and provide habitat for birds, butterflies and insects.

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508 Duke Street West, Kitchener, ON, N2H 3Y8
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Phone: (519) 575-9174