Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Cob Stompin

We took the short drive to Euclid Ave to participate in our Friday ritual of fresh local food and community. I was prepared to meet up with some great people and buy some local produce, but we stumbled upon an unusual scene. There was a group of Second Chance youth collecting rocks and asphalt on the outskirts of the parking lot. Second Chance is a program that works with incarcerated youth and teaches them valuable job and life skills to transition them into the "real world". There was a large tarp with rocks, clay, sand and hay set up and a crowd gathered around Chad Bliss the youth farm coordinator for Second Chance. Chad asked the group of onlookers why farming and earthen building skills are important? Answering his own question Chad eloquently rambled on about how people are totally dependent on others, sometimes working 2 jobs just to survive, eat and have a roof over our heads. People who can grow their own food and learn earthen building can create a sustainable future and be less dependent on a "thing" based economic system that values "things" more than people. Chad took off his shoes and started mixing materials found in our back yards like clay, sand and water. Cob squished through his toes and the smiles of the crowd were contagious.

He started stompin and mixing the materials and rolled them back and forth using a blue tarp like a spring roll wrapper to roll the materials back and forth. His wet muddy feet were to much for my daughters and with a little prodding we too were cob stompin. Another local kid had already joined in the fun and we were dancing the Cob Stomp. Around and around we went with reckless abandon. Our dancing feet were creating a natural building material and maybe some community art.

Cob has been used all over the world as a building material and is known for moderating the internal air temperatures of homes. Cob is constructed using rocks as a base to keep the cob away from moisture, and is blended with hay which provides a sort of natural rebar to strenthen the structure. Cob is sealed with bees wax, wheat paste, or limestone paste to keep moisture out. It is easy to work with, hard as a rock and virtually free. You don't need multiple trips to Home Depot and your kids can help create and design the structures. The only problem is the permitting at this point but hopefully this to will change like gray water policy in San Diego.

So go ahead get some neighbors together and throw a Cob Stompin party. Take your shoes off and let go. You just might even create your own pizza oven, bench , wall or maybe even a house. Consider it a neighborhood art project, pedicure or a free mud bath.

This Peoples Produce Farmers Market workshop is a series put on by Victoy Gardens that will happen every other week and teach our community valuable skills of self sustainability. This is a great opportunity to meet your neighbors and support your local economy. Check them out at  

For your information: Just a couple million years ago there were whales swimming down Euclid and Market right smack dab on top of the People's Produce Farmers Market and the graffiti walls of Writers Block. The only predictable part of life is change. Enjoy it!

1 comment:

  1. Jeremy you have a way with words. I enjoyed that very much!