Thursday, April 12, 2012

Homestead Skillshare Festival

Sat, May 26th from 10am-6pm
Hayes Valley Farm, 450 Laguna Street, SF
A festival to help educate, inspire and spread sustainable living and self-sufficiency skills.

Scheduled Workshops:
Worm bins, bike powered machines, cob ovens, urban composting, urban gardening in the Bay and container gardening, cohousing and intentional communities, fruit trees, seed-saving, food preservation (wine-making, pickling, miso), disaster preparedness, herbal medicine, herb growing, teas and tincture making, bee-keeping and pollination, backyard livestock (with live chickens and ducks), insects as food, sprouting, solar ovens, mushroom cultivation, soap-making, cheese and yogurt making, natural dyes, candle-making, diy green cleaning, natural beauty, nonviolent communication, water catchment, place-making and more! (Habra traduccion en Espanol, limited Cantonese translation).

Admission: Ticketing on Eventbrite and cash only at the door. Payment of 2 hours donation to Hayes Valley Farm through and/or $20 donation to the BACE Timebank. Kids are free, families welcome. Free & donation-based food onsite and benefit dinner at end of Festival. Rain or shine. No refunds.

Co-sponsored by: the BACE Timebank, Hayes Valley Farm, SF Permaculture Guild, SF Urban Agriculture Alliance, PODER (SF), Occupy SF Sustainability Working Group, the Institute for Urban Homesteading, Transition SF, KitchenGarden SF, SF Bee-Cause, the Connection Action Project, SF Free School, Just One Tree, Ohlone Herbal Center, Planet Drum. Thanks to our media sponsor, Please contact mira at for more info.

Presenters: SF Permaculture Guild, Urban Permaculture Institute, Connection Action Project, Rock the Bike, Shoe Shine Wine, Briones Self-Sufficiency and Urban Homesteading Circle, Taproot Medicine, Mushroom Maestros, Canticle Farm, Tatiana Florentina Craft Almendral, The Village Farm & Fairy Ring Herbs, Institute for Urban Homesteading, SF Bee-Cause, Cohousing California, Kitchen Garden SF, SF Seed Library, Hayes Valley Farm, Alemany Farm, Living Earth Structures, Hayes Valley Farm, Urban Homesteading Institute, Tina Grecchi, Transition SF, Ohlone Herbal Center, Mira Luna, Gabriel Cole, Jennifer Fernandez

Music: Alma Desnuda will be headlining and Nicco Tyson will be playing during the dinner and silent auction.
Food: Arizmendi on Valencia, PODER (SF) and Occupy SF!
Spanish Translation: PODER (SF)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Cob Cat House that Community Built

By Mira Luna

This is a story about how my cat finally came home, because my community built a home for her without money.

A few years ago I had to find a temporary home for my cat, Cleo. This is a story about how my cat finally came home, because my community built a home for her without money.

About four years ago I became ill around the time I lost my job as the economy tanked. Fortunately, my best friend took Cleo on her farm in Oregon and she's been living there happily ever since. Late last year my partner and I created a cat-friendly housing collective and moved in together. I wanted to bring Cleo home from the farm, but she needed to be outside of our new house during the day in order for everyone in the house to be happy.

It became clear that we had to build a dwelling for Cleo before she could come home. I wanted to find out if it was possible to build a sustainable cat house without money since I don't have much. Plus, I thought it would be a fun experiment in living in the sharing economy. I’d taken a couple basic workshops on cob ovens and the ovens looked like small animal dwellings so I decided I’d use a cob oven as a model.

In a stroke of luck, the day after I decided to build a cob cat house, an email about free straw bales was posted to a local urban agriculture listserv. Bob Besso of Recology (an urban reuse and recycling center) met up with me to pick up the straw bales he’d posted, helping me load them into my car. Bob later posted another email about a wood structure, which would be used to provide rain protection for the cob house. When I went to pick it up, Bob took one look at my tiny car and the big wood box and decided it would be safer if he delivered it to my house in his pick up truck. He took a half hour off work to help us out.

Kerrick designing the cat cob structure, photo by Marshall Hilton
Then I posted my need for help to design the cob structure to our local timebank in San Francisco, still feeling uncertain in my mastery of cob. I got several responses. A fellow named Kerrick Lucker responded. He had taken a cob building class at Emerald Earth (one of the best places to learn cob in the country) and wanted to help me design the structure. We met to assess the site and draw out the design specifically for a cat and the local microclimate and laid out the shape of the foundation. I paid him three hours on the Timebank for his consultation. Kerrick also offered some left over clay and sand for free that was needed for the cob mixture, which I picked up from the house he'd just moved out of, saving him some effort to move it himself without a car.

Read the rest of the article on