Earthen Oven 飯舘村 8/29, 9/25

August 29 and September 25 helped with an earthen oven workshop led by Suzuki-san at Iitate Village (飯舘村) in Fukushima Prefecture.8/29
Build opening with firebricks

Form dome with wet sand

Earthen-sand mix

Cover with wet newspaper to separate sand from earth. Cover dome with earthen mix

Yoshi-kun and Kyle shaping oven

End of Day one

Cover thermal mass layer with an insulating layer of vermiculite, straw, and earth.


Ideally, the earthen plaster slowly dries over several weeks to prevent drying cracks. Then, heat is slowly added to prevent expansion cracks. But we couldn’t wait.
Fire oven and bake pizzas


End of day two


Natural Building in Thailand

Saw many examples of natural building in Thailand.
Thatch roofs are very common. The thatch roofing can be bought as shingles, and then lashed on to a frame.
One-room bamboo homes sold along the road.

Visited a natural building demonstration project sponsored by the king.
Bamboo frame plastered with a mix of soil, water buffalo manure, and cement.


Jeff of Chiang Mai

On Friday, August 20th, Neil and I took the overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. The next morning, Jeff, a lecturer at a Chiang Mai University, met us at the train station.
Jeff with bamboo fish trap in irrigation channel
Jeff's home is a beautiful, small permaculture farm outside of Chiang Mai.
Water hyacinth, a fast growing accumulator of nitrogen and phosphorus, flourishes in the irrigation channel and is periodically removed and used as nutrient rich mulch on the adjacent garden beds.


Herbal Hospital and Ecovillage in Thailand

Visited a hospital that concentrates on herbal medicine, and it's accompanying herbal medicine museum. We then visited the ecovillage that grows many of the herbs for the hospital.


Neil Willman

August 17-24, visited Neil Willmann of Daruma Farm in Thailand.
Neil and his water baffallo

Neil and his wife, Su, also run a spa, Vimaya. I met Neil at the International Ecovillage Conference in Tokyo this past May. He'd like me to help teach a Permaculture course at his farm next spring.



August 14th, attended 小さい削ろう会 in Enzan, Yamanashi-Prefecture. Over the course of a week, two teams of carpenters, one Japanese and one from Europe, each built a small structure using only hand tools



August third, visited Tokyo Yuden, a company that collects used cooking oil in the Tokyo area and produces biodiesel.