Arising from our Roots

Rumi, a Persian mystic poet, created inspirational verses which focused on the wisdom he had for humanity and the elements of earth, water, air and fire.

"All the precious words you and I have exchanged have found their way into the heart of the universe . . . . one day they will pour on us like rain helping us arise from our roots again."

As one moves around the site, one can only feel the roots of the builders, the materials, the methods. Brendon from wine country Bannockburn; JJ from bilingual Quebec; Doug from hot Redlands, California; Macrocarpa wood from the beautiful South Island; wool insulation from the infamous New Zealand sheep; earth bagged from the soil of the Cardrona Valley - all these elements seem to be finding their genuine pathway into this home build. This site truly has heart!
The photo (below-left) is taken from the SE corner of the lot and will be the straw-baled bathroom and wardrobe of the ensuite. On the right side, we have an interior view, taken from the small straw-baled bedrooms at the west side of the home. These rooms are graced by the rammed earth keystone wall.

Looking at the insulation sacks -brings a huge smile to our faces because we've seen the lovely sheep on the many hillsides and at the numerous shearing stations. We are always amazed and thankful on how these sweet animals are so 'giving' of their wool which has so many uses in our lives.

Also above find Trent (Reno roots!) and the Jennings brothers (Wasatch Front, Utah) engaged in the earth-bag building. Thanks to Cal-Earth and the innovative spirit of Nader Khalili (1936-2008), we are using his earth architecture techniques in Wanaka. This building method is an extremely strong and organic means of construction that can be used to create a variety of forms and structures. Building with earth-bags goes quickly and is very adaptable to site conditions. Our 3 strong young men can produce 60 linear feet per day! This ethically-based type of constructing acts in harmony with nature and one only needs the bags, an approximate 30% mixture of each of the following: aggregate; clay; sand; and a 10% dash of concrete, along with some water that acts as a catalyst for the earth-mix to bond and set. Tamping is essential to the process and is important when compacting the bags once they are in place. Barbed wire is used to make sure that the earth-bags are properly secured against slipping, and leaning the bags, at a slight angle toward the earth bank, provides added stability. Of course, we are not the first to make retaining walls this way; there is the Columbian community of Gaviotas that has created ponds and retaining walls using this environmental process.
Thanks to all of you, who are exchanging precious words on all that is sustainable; we are feeling the heart of the universe and are beginning to arise from our roots!


  1. Anonymous1/21/2011

    Really like the earth-bag building. Be sure to create good drainage areas on the in-side, closer to the hill zone. Looked at the Gaviotas project and it is really innovative. We think it is great that you are trying out this technique on the South Island of New Zealand.

  2. Thanks for the earth-bag stoke!! Good foresight on the drainage issue. We were thinking about following the Cal-Earth handbook method of placing 'weep holes' of PVC pipe every meter or so near the ground level, but have decided to just run a french drain down the length of the wall. Also very glad to hear that you checked out the Gaviotas village/project - fore running visionaries out there. Get excited for more earth-bag/ Super Adobe progress and updates and thanks again for your thoughts!!