rammed earth iv

Making Progress I have every other Friday off from my internship in the city, so I’ve been alternating when I come down to Sunnyvale to work.  It’s a nice break from the city – open space, warm, quiet.  Day IV landed on a Saturday – a busy one for the farm, too, as they were preparing for a big fundraising event that evening. There was still a group coming to the garden to learn and help out for a few hours, and I had the opportunity of utilizing some man-power.  This brought me back to my Habitat for Humanity days of managing a team without having a clear direction of what exactly needed to happen.  Regardless, we had a good CLICK for more


rammed earth iii

Breaking Ground So there was enough talk leading up to this – it was time to break ground! You can see pictured above John digging out the layer of mulch on top and then a few inches of soil until we arrived at the more solid stuff, on which we laid the rocks.  I overshot how much gravel we needed, but thankfully when it is moved by tractor, it can easily be moved yet again.  We made the aggregate slab 24″ wide, to allow a few inches leeway for the wall. After completing this, I searched out the best soil to use from my available options onsite.  I decided on the one pictured above, that had the smallest trace of CLICK for more


rammed earth ii

This day, after finding out where my project was to be located, I got to work laying out the dimensions for the foundation slab.  It is nice how resources, people, and information can all come together precisely when I need it.  I was under the impression that, especially being in California where there are seismic conditions, that I would need to use a concrete slab, and possibly add rebar. Research First! I spoke with several people and found out that for the scope of my project and its proportions this wouldn’t be necessary.  This is definitely to my advantage because, though I’ve mixed concrete by hand on a service trip in Mexico once, that was more than enough (I recall CLICK for more


rammed earth i

Getting Started I am thankful to have the opportunity to experiment with my rammed earth project at Full Circle Farm in Sunnyvale, California.  This is a great place for kids and adults alike in the bay area to come and learn about how produce is grown – the healthy way.  My initial idea was to build a wall in the middle of no defined space, but I like having it in the garden area of the farm because of the opportunity to introduce an alternative/natural building method with a much larger crowd. Experimentation After visiting the farm, I started experimenting with soil sampling and testing.  I worked with cob last summer, so I am vaguely familiar with how to test CLICK for more