From bale related

Hands-on Clay Plaster Workshop 3/10/18, Fallbrook, CA

Come and learn about natural clay plasters in a fun, supportive environment while helping to plaster a tiny strawbale building. During this one-day workshop, we will mix and install the base coat of clay plaster – also know as earth plaster – to the strawbale and straw-clay walls of an adorable 120 square foot building. The class will be a mix of talking about building and hands-on doing. This is a rare opportunity to participate in a real build where your safety and education are the primary focus.

click to see an animation of the building you’ll be working on

No previous experience with construction is required. All tools will be provided for your use during the class. Taught by Rebecca Tasker and Mike Long, general contractors and co-owners of Simple Construct Naturally Healthy Homes.

These workshops fill up quickly, so register soon. We will provide water and light snacks, you will be responsible for bringing your own lunch. Address will be provided with registration.

Here’s what former workshop attendees said about our workshops:

“Perfect amount of students. Easy to understand. Excellent presentation. Very knowledgeable instructors. Would highly recommend the workshops.” – A.C.

“It was a great experience– you guys have so much knowledge and passion for what you do and I appreciated the opportunity to learn from you.” – M.B.

“I loved the size of the workshops and how they were presented. Very easy to grasp the principles as they were presented. There was always time for questions and they were all answered honestly I feel. I felt that a great deal of consideration was given in the planning of the classes and there is nothing I can think of that I would want different. The information was extremely well presented. Both contractors were always very willing to answer questions and were very forthcoming with information. Often when attending this sort of thing there is a feeling coming from the people giving the class that they are better than those of us who do not know enough yet. I never once got the feeling like that from the contractors at this class. They were always very much interested in our needs and perception of the material.” – K.W.





Fallgren Strawbale Home receives Net Zero Energy certification through Living Building Challenge

On Jan 3, 2018, the Fallgren Home in Campo, CA, became the second building in Southern California to be awarded “Net Zero Energy Building” status through the Living Building Challenge. This third-party certification is based on actual performance data and verifies that the building uses less energy than it produces annually, as well as meets the program’s criteria for sensitive development, beauty, and education.

California has set a goal that all new residential buildings will be Zero Energy by 2020. This house is one example of how we can meet that goal using carbon-sequestering, non-toxic materials that are better for people and the environment.

Super-insulation, thoughtful design and careful construction mean that this home stays a comfortable temperature year round in this extreme climate while using little energy. The smaller than the average photovoltaic solar array (4.1 kW) provides almost twice as much electricity as this home uses even though every system in the home is electric (no gas or propane).

“When it was cold this winter, the house stayed at about 70° without any heat. When it got hot this summer, the house stayed at about 74° without air conditioning. It’s a very comfortable house.” – Brian Fallgren, Homeowner

This home is one of only 27 in the world to achieve this certification through the International Living Future Institute, a nonprofit working to build an ecologically-minded, restorative world for all people. Using principles of social and environmental justice, ILFI seeks to counter climate change by pushing for an urban environment free of fossil fuels. ILFI runs the Living Building Challenge, which is the world’s most rigorous green building standard, as well as the Net Zero Energy Building Certification (now Zero Energy), the Living Product Challenge, and the Living Community Challenge. The ILFI NZEB certification draws from the Living Building Challenge and is a highly rigorous and regarded standard in its own right.







Wakeham Strawbale Home on the USGBC Green Homes Tour Oct 22

The Wakeham Strawbale Home in Solana Beach (top photo) will be featured on the Tour

For the 5th year in a row, one of our projects has been selected for the San Diego Green Building Council’s Green Homes Tour!

Join us in Solana Beach to tour the Wakeham Strawbale Home. Many of you visited this home during the construction at our Open House-in-Process event, now come and see it finished!

This is just one of the homes on the Tour, check out the USGBC website for more info and to register





Workshops for the tiny strawbale building for Coral Tree Farm

We’re excited to be making progress on the 120 sq foot turmeric growing building for Coral Tree Farm. We held three wonderful workshops already (framing, straw bales, and clay base plaster) and are looking forward to the Finish Clay Plaster workshop on 8/12. As of 8/8, there is only one spot left in the finish clay plaster workshop, so register soon if you are interested in participating (link to registration).

foundation work
the framing workshop
the straw bale workshop
progress on the clay base plaster
Bales are in, ready for plaster
The last workshop







Simple Construct honored by CASBA

Mike & I were deeply honored to receive the coveted “Traveling Straw Dog Award for advancing straw building while having fun doing it” at this year’s CA Straw Building Association conference. We couldn’t have done many of the things we’ve been able to do without the knowledge and support provided by CASBA: thank you!

Straw Bale Article Published

Here is the article about straw bale building that I wrote for Home Power Magazine. Once the viewer loads, click the full-screen icon (the four-cornered box) and zoom in to read. Enjoy! – Rebecca


Straw Bale Tiny Accessory Building – coming in 2017!

Here’s a fun animation of a 120 square foot tiny hybrid straw bale and straw-clay building that we’ve designed. We’re planning to build this one in northern San Diego County in 2017 and will have a number of workshops during the construction. We’re still working out the details but, if you are interested and would like to know more, make sure you are on our email list (scroll to the bottom of this page)!

The Fallgren Straw Bale Home is Net Zero Energy… it may even be Net Positive Energy!

After a bit of fiddling, we have most of the energy monitoring equipment working and the data looks good. What this graph shows is 3 days and 3 nights of electricity generation and usage (midnight on Oct 15 to midnight Oct 18).

When it’s dark outside, about 5pm to 7am, the data above the centerline shows the energy being used, drawn from the electrical grid. When the sun is up, about 7am to 5pm, the data below the centerline shows the net generation (the electricity generated minus the electricity used) of the 4.1 kWh PV system during the day.

This quick glimpse shows we are generating more than TWICE the electricity that we draw from the grid and these were unusually cloudy days in Campo! Once we get the rest of the equipment online, we’ll be able to tell which circuits use the most electricity and we’ll post more data then. The ultimate goal is to have all of this data available online in real time.

If you are one of the many who donated to our fundraising campaign, thanks again for your part in making this monitoring possible!


The straw bale buildings at Deer Park Monastery nominated for an Orchid Award

Sisters at Deer Park Monastery enjoying a cup of teaThe straw bale buildings we helped build for the Deer Park Buddhist Monastery in Escondido were nominated for an Orchid award in the 2016 “Orchids & Onions” by the San Diego Architecture Foundation.




“Deer Park Monastery- Nun’s Residence

The form—based on a traditional Spanish Hacienda embracing a central courtyard with plantings—encourages togetherness and provides opportunities for interaction between residents.  Covered walkways extend the living space outdoors, taking advantage of our temperate climate and integrating awareness of the natural world into activities like walking to the shower.  All rooms are accessed through the central courtyard, helping eliminate the expense and space requirements of interior hallways.

The detached buildings help enclose the courtyard, providing a sense of protection and defining the core of the residences.  This arrangement allows Deer Park Monastery to build within the existing pad and provide fire department access without building a large road around the buildings. This design also allows for phased construction that can help meet the project’s current budget, while being mindful of possible future expansion as funds allow.

Thick strawbale walls and operable windows provide thermal comfort for the buildings atop the hill which receive plentiful daylight and breezes. A beautiful garden setting incorporating existing cypress trees and views to the rest of the monastery will make this new residence a comfortable place to visit and live.

Clay Plaster Interior Detail Deer Park Monastery


  1. Sensitive siting in the area of existing buildings and roads minimizes the impact on the natural surroundings.
  2. Passive solar design lets the sun help heat the space and uses shade to stay cool. This helps reduce the need for mechanical systems and electricity.
  3. The narrow footprint along with operable windows optimizes daylighting and natural ventilation.
  4. Indoor / outdoor living is encouraged by covered walk-ways and central courtyard.
  5. Super-insulated strawbale walls repurpose agricultural waste as a building material and provide comfortable, quiet interiors.
  6. Plastered bale walls provide thermal mass, passively maintaining interior temperature
  7. A metal roof with recycled steel content limits solar heat gain through its reflective finish.
  8. High-efficiency glazing reduces heat gain
  9. Fire-resistive materials provide durability along with timeless beauty
  10. Rainwater catchment and greywater re-use supplies landscape irrigation.”Deer Park Monastery New Nunnery Building A

Straw Bale Open House-in-Process, 9/11/16

openhousebalerainbowIMG_4693v2Sunday, September 11th, noon-3pm, The Wakeham Project, Solana Beach, CA

A rare opportunity to tour a straw bale house under construction! Come talk with the builders and check out how the straw bales go together to form the walls in this 1600 sq ft, two-story straw bale home designed by Hubbell & Hubbell Architects. This is the only time this job site will be open to the public until the project is completed, so don’t miss it!



Wakeham CoverWAKbalesIMG_5004