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Working on 2010 workshops!

In the meantime, checkout
Women & Carpentry

Workshops in Toronto


Reviews from past students:

"Having been a student in one of your Econest, natural building workshops, I can state with confidence, that your courses are worth every minute. Your mix of detailed instruction and hands-on learning builds confidence and brings alternative construction practices into the realm of possibility for participants. The course also provided a great opportunity to meet other like-minded people, from all walks of life, some of whom (including Josh) have become part of my personal network of 'go-to' resource people for natural building.
Thanks for the opportunity and keep up the great work."
- David Moses, PhD, PEng, PE, LEED AP, Principal
Moses Structural Engineers Inc.

From The Timber Framers Guild:

"Joshua, The Guild’s 23rd annual Eastern Conference at Montebello was a great event; You helped make it so! We appreciate your contribution to the learning, fun and excitement, and on behalf of the TFG staff, Directors and Members, thank you!"
- Will Beemer, Co-Executive


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Saubucks Accepted Here!

Up to 50% of costs can be paid by Saubucks. To learn more, follow this external link:



Heard of the "100 mile diet"? Well, check out our 40 km house! 85% of last year's Martin House came from within 40 km of the build site!

Learn how we did it here>>


Natural building is a style of construction which emphasizes the use of local and benign materials (low processed) and technologies. Methods include timber frame, straw bale, straw/clay, adobe, cob, hemp, natural plasters and finishes, and stone masonry. These methods of construction combine current, state of the art of techniques with historical methods. These well constructed buildings such as timber frames, can easily stand for 500 to 1000 years and more. Other than longevity, other benefits include a healthier & environmentally sustainable building, energy efficiency, support of the local economy and social responsibility.

Join us in rediscovering this age-old style of construction and community building!

Stay tuned by joining our Mailing List.

2010 Workshops

You do not have to have ANY previous building experience to participate in our workshops! We encourage anyone and everyone to come - we strive towards an open and accessible work-live place that is free of any form of discrimination and bigotry.

Bau-Biologie ~ April 12-13, 2010
w/ Paula Baker-Laporte & Steven Collette

Building Science for Natural Builders ~ April 14th
w/ Joshua Thornton & Steven Collette

Building Code for Natural Builders ~ April 15th
w/ Joshua Thornton

EcoNest: Turning Your Dreams Into Reality ~ April 17th
w/ Paula Baker-Laporte

Life-Cycle Analysis ~ April 19th
w/Wayne B. Trusty

Rocket Stove: The Evolution of Fire ~ May 3rd - 7th
w/ Erica & Ernie Wisner

Masonry Heaters: Hand & Kit Built ~ May 10th -14th
w/ Alex Chernov & Jon Sheaff

Earthen Plaster ~ May 17th -21st
w/Glen Byrom

Dry-Stacked Stone Foundations ~ May 26th -28th
w/Eric Landman

Durisol Foundations ~ June 5th
w/Vipul Acharaya

Timber Framing: Square Rule ~ June 7th - 11th
w/Joshua Thornton

Timber Framing: Plumb-line Scribe ~ June 14th - 18th
w/Joshua Thornton

Straw/Clay Infill ~ June 21th - 25th

w/Joshua Thornton

See our Archives section for images of these past workshops.

Natural building differs from green building in that the materials consume less energy from processing (machinery, glues, factories, etc.), transportation, storage and marketing (pamphlet printing, sample swatches, renting and heating of a marketing space, etc.).

Labour intensive conversion of local, natural materials into building materials keeps money in the local economy. By contrast, highly processed materials available at big box stores are fabricated by large corporations in far away lands. Purchasing these materials leads to "capital flight" from the local community. Furthermore, local materials travel less distances and are often processed by-hand or with very low energy methods. This means that they have less “embodied energy” than highly processed materials.

From a building perspective, local materials encourage the re-introduction of vernacular architecture to a particular site. By contrast, many homes built today look the same in Southern California as they do in Northern Ontario. Natural buildings reflect the locale in which it is situated, its immediate environment, the community of skilled trades that inhabit the area and the larger community who support these buildings and their inhabitants.

Other Workshops From Friends:

Women & Carpentry ~ February 27th - 28th; March 13th -14th
w/Ali Lam & Shanin Muegge
in downtown Toronto

For our friends down in the Eastern United States, check out Heartwood School for Home Building Crafts... It's where both Joshua and I, Ali, got our start in timber framing:

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