Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Learn How to Build an Earth Oven

I am going to learn how to build an earth oven this weekend at the Tickletown Sustainable Living Festival in Great Valley. I will also be exhibiting natural building and environmental books. The festival, this Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 2 and 3, has been organized by Lois Hilton, a member of the Cattaraugus Greens. "I want this to be a community creation where everyone has input in the design. We'll have fun," Lois said in an interview in the Olean Times Herald. "Everyone is going to be encouraged to take part. We'll mix the cob with our feet on a tarp." Cob is the old English word for "lump." The dome part of the outdoor radiant-heat earth oven is constructed by forming lumps of clay dirt, sand, straw and water over a base of wet sand that is later removed.

The weekend begins at 10 a.m. Saturday with a potluck meal and discussion on sustainable local living. Participants will spend all afternoon building the oven and receive a sourdough bread-making lesson before an evening potluck, camping and acoustic jam. On Sunday morning, the oven builders will pull out the inner sand formation and fire up some wood on its brick floor. Then the coals will be pulled out and the 27-inch-wide, 22-inch-high oven will remain hot enough on the inside for another three to four hours to bake breads, roasts, pizzas, cookies and the like. The downdraft system will take cool air through the bottom part of the door, circle it up through the dome and send the hot air through the top part of the door. To protect the oven from the elements, Mark of Excellence landscaping and carpentry company is designing a living roof, growing a canopy of vine leaves attached to nearby locust trees.

Location: Tickletown Trust and Trade, 4484 Humphyrey Road, Great Valley, NY 14741 (near Olean). All ages welcome! For information, call 716-945-5460 or email

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