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A Turning of the Soil
Building an Earth House by Hand
by Ellen Rowland

earth houseBuilding with earth is both environmentally and socially responsible. This is the first-person story of how one New York City family, inspired by earth building promoter Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy and pushed by the 2008 economic crisis, designed and built their own 2,500 square foot wind- and solar-powered house in Senegal, West Africa with rammed earth and earth bricks. Writes Ellen Rowland, "The walls of our house were built using the earth under our feet, water from our well, a few pieces of plywood and iron, and eighteen pairs of hands, including our own. Our children, then three and four, learned to make earth bricks by throwing mud into wood frames and watching the sun turn them into usable bricks, which they then helped lay."

Click here to read the article as it appeared in the November/December 2011 issue of Natural Life Magazine. You'll find more information about earth as a building material, including its advantages and disadvantages, building codes, resources, and photographs.

Ellen Rowland is an American living in Senegal, W. Africa in an off-the-grid earth house she helped build with her husband and two young children. She is a writer of sustainable issues, fiction, humor, and poetry and is currently working on a book about her experiences in sustainable family living. A lover of all things edible and a passionate cook, she is also working with several women in her village to produce a cookbook of local flavors and culinary customs. You can read more about her family's adventures on her blog.



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