Who wants to try their hand at building an earth oven with the lovely people at Saffron Acres? (next session Saturday 14th June – are you available?)
LESSBIG is ‘on site’ and needs your help!
Earth ovens are a relatively easy and fun building project with natural materials. You can see tons of examples around the web but here are some of my favourites:
Kiko Denzer is a cob building maestro and has a book on the topic of earth ovens. (link)
A straightforward, step by step write up of the method (from Denzer) is available here from Permaculture magazine (link)
Simon Brookes website “The Clay Oven” details his own build (and examples of several others). He has a book/e-book out on the subject too. (link)
Max and Eva Edleson (US) are “Firespeaking” and natural building experts with tons of experience around earth ovens and heating systems in general. Loads of ideas on their site. (link)
And finally, an entertainingly historic entry about earth ovens from ‘Cultivator and Country Gentleman magazine”, published 1869 is up on this website. “I have seen dirt ovens, and helped build them too, as well as eaten of the incomparably fine bread baked in them” (link)
Got a taste for it yet?
To get things started, I have cleared a 1m² spot, dug a little foundation of about 4-5 inches deep, filled it with rubble and bits, stomped it down and laid some relatively square concrete slabs forming a (not particularly-but-better-than-nothing) level base.
The nicer looking red and black bricks on top I think will be the base of the actual oven eventually. There is a fair bit of other rubble around to use as the main core of the riser, with cob going around this to hold it all in and also to look a bit nicer.
My next mini mission is to make some block forms and test out some larger scale earth bricks (with and without woodchip / straw added) mainly to see how the mix will hold together. There is a good spot for clay at the site that we are okay to dig from. I am waiting for the results of the ‘jar test’ to settle but if anything it might even have too much clay in it.
So if you are interested in helping out, I think the project will break down into:
– 1 day to build up the base (and let it dry)
– 1 day to build the oven (and let it dry)
– 1 day to finish it off with some kind of coating / paint / whitewash
And of course some time to do nothing but bake and eat things!
It is just about possible to build one alone, but that’s not much fun. Get in touch ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) if you feel like having a go and we’ll sort out a good Saturday (or possibly a weekday) to crack on with it in the next couple of months hopefully.
For those of you who don’t know where Saffron Acres is, it is fairly central, on Coppinger Road, just off Saffron Road. Near the Aylestone Leisure Centre. If you don’t fancy the oven, they’ve got tons of other stuff you could get involved in!
Otherwise keep watching this space for updates as and when I can get out of the office! (Given the weather, I don’t need much of an excuse at the moment)