Come and see us at Free the Seeds – March 4 @ FVCC

20170212_115458FREE THE SEEDS – 2nd annual free seed and start “Fair”

Real Seeds, Real Food, Real Skills

Location: Flathead Valley Community College, Arts and Technology Building, 777 Grandview Drive, Kalispell, MT

When: Saturday, March 4 2017, 8am – 3:30pm

Kid-friendly activities (ages 8 & up)

Seed Swap: Room 144A/B 8am – 12 noon

Bring and share your untreated, non-GMO, open-pollinated seeds (bought or saved), starts, cuttings or scions!


February 2017 Pics

Jerome Osentowski, Eco Systems Design, Inc.

I wanted to share this link to Jerome Osentowski’s company, Eco Systems Design, inc.

This site has a wealth of information on climate battery design.  Also lots of good info on greenhouse and solar home design, permaculture, forest gardens and edible school yards!  Check out the beautiful artichokes growing in the school garden.

Also check out his book: The Forest Garden Greenhouse: How to Design and Manage an Indoor Permaculture Oasis

Nearly ready for the polycarbonate.

exterior roof-framingOn Saturday, Walter and I wrapped the exterior of the earthbag walls with 2″ blueboard insulation (R-10) and our next step will be to add the ventilation system for the roof on the two north rooms.  We are venting this roof with cold outdoor air so that we won’t have any mold issues inside the roof system.  Once the venting system is in we’ll wrap it with Delta MS and backfill.  That’s this weeks goal.  Last Thursday, Jim Ponaski gave us a hand for the day and we got all the purlins up on the roof, so we are now ready for the polycarbonate roofing material.

Framing to windows and roof

grnhseWe framed in the windows and doors in the grow room last weekend.  There are steel 2″x2″ purlins that we will install at 3′-0″ on center over the beams.  greenhouse-windowsHere you can see the windows being installed and the roof beams completed.  Also we are installing the 2″ blueboard insulation on the outside of the earthbags.  We cut a slight angle on the top of the blue foam board to support the flashing for drainage.  After the blueboard we installed a product called Delta MS over that.  See product brochure at:   Then after the Delta MS was installed we flashed over that with metal angle and a drip edge.

The idea here is to insulate around the exterior of the thermal mass and protect the earthbags from ground moisture so they will maintain their structural integrity and retain heat within the building envelope.  Since we insulated under the floor also, then placed the 4″ perf pipes and drain rock for the climate battery in 2′ of thermal mass in the floor, and now are insulating on the exterior of the 15″ thick earthen walls on the exterior we are creating a thermal break so all this mass will hold the heat that the sun provides in the building walls and floor.  The double pane glass windows and and polycarbonate roof are the parts with a poor R-value so we minimized them by sinking the floor 3′ into the ground and the back rooms where the fish and equipment will live will be bermed under the ground and fully insulated on the exterior of the earthen walls as well.

This weekend coming up we plan to frame the roof over the north rooms.  The fish/equipment and seed starting room and the root cellar roof.  Stay tuned!

Concrete Bond Beam Pour Today!

I’m Back! We finished placing the last earthbag before forming the bond beam on August 22nd. So this last weekend we spent forming up for the concrete beam we are going to be pouring in place on top of the earth bags today.


I’ll post more pics of the forms and the pour later today or in the morning. We’re looking forward to getting into the framing so we can really see the building take shape.

Take a look on the “Participate” page as we have invited a couple of guest teachers from Oregon to offer a Cob & Natural Plaster Workshop from Sept 23 – 25th. David Schroeder and Jessicka Nebesni will teach us what we need to know to select and source materials, make the cob and natural plasters and application techniques as well as how to do different finishes and textures with the finish coat. If this interests you, please sign up for their workshop here on the website. If you have any questions feel free to contact me via phone, text or email. Michael

Jessicka plasteringPic - David in the Cob - cropped

Fourth Week – Crew’s

fourth week crew

Joe, Robin, Diana and Michael after a day of earth-bagging! We found that if we fill the bags with two buckets of dirt filled 3/4 full and then roll them down on the wall with the folded end of the bag against the last bag that was placed and then continue to lay the filled bags one after the other before we tamp, it goes much quicker and the bags pack better. We typically have one person filling the buckets, one person carrying the buckets and dumping them into the next bag and one person holding the bag as it is filled and then folding it and laying it in place as the bucket runner fetches two more buckets of earth. This creates a nice bagging rhythm.

Week four crew Monday

Angela, Carl and Nicholas having lunch with us on Monday. You all are a great bagging crew! As we begin tamping a bag row the tamper is held at the top of the handle so gravity keeps it plumb (perfectly vertical). when the tamper is plum that means the steel tamping plate is perfectly level horizontally. Then the person doing the tamping will tamp only the high spots and stays away from low areas. By tamping the high spots it forces the earth down into the low areas, thereby evening out the bags and ultimately creating a flat, well compacted surface that is very nearly level. Then the entire wall is tamped hard before we lay in two strands of barbed wire that serves to hold the next row of bags in place.

Ryan week 4

Ryan has the touch with that screw gun! We build wood frames or “Door & Window Bucks” so we can firmly compact the bags on either side of the door and window openings but not allow the bags to encroach upon the door or window openings. This is important so the doors and windows will fit easily when we get to installing them later in the building process. we use the level to plumb the door & window bucks and a 1×4 diagonal brace to keep them square. We also check each frame for plumb and level periodically as we build up the bags around them to make sure they stay where they are supposed to be.

Diana week 4 mon

Diana relaxing after a busy day on the SolarGreen.House build site. At the end of every day we cover the bags with tarps to protect them from the sun and rain. The walls must be protected because the sun will break down the plastic in the bags and they will fall apart. If they get rained on the clay and soil in the bags will turn to mud and lose its strength. We always tarp walls when we are not working on them. Thanks to Diana for fixing incredible Whole Food Plant-Based lunches for all who want to join us for lunch!