Earth Floor – Diamond Mountain Buddhist Community

This past weekend I spent a day helping/teaching three young folks installing an earth floor in a 400 sf straw bale cottage belonging to 33 year old Nicole Davis.  Short of installing the kitchen cabinets and sink, this was the last step in finishing her little building, mostly self-built, after a couple of years of hard work.  It always amazes me what can happen and how much people can do with a little guidance and good technique.  So I thought I’d post a few photos from the day and its progression.

Her cottage is one of many small buildings located at the Diamond Mountain Buddhist Community on the north end of the Chiricahua mountains close to the Arizona, New Mexico border.  Nicole is part of a small group of staff attending to a larger group of approximately 40 people who are spending 3 years there at the site for a retreat in total silence, no texting or emails either.  Obviously, my support crew members for the day, Nicole, friends Matt and Viet (Vietnamese decent obviously) are able to talk.  All those attending the retreat had to build a small cottage – living quarters, which they will donate to the community at the end of the retreat period on their departure.  Thinking about it I decided that perhaps it will work out to be a really good deal or a whole lot of future maintenance.  Time will tell.

Floor mix was 1 part 1/8 inch screened soil from the site to 4 parts sand, little straw for both appearance and help with preventing cracking.  It was interesting in that the previously installed clay sub-floor was very irregular and worn.   Normally I would have repaired it before starting but, we decided to undertake the floor anyway.  We got started installing the floor mix about 10:30 in the morning, stopped for a half an hour lunch break and finished by 3 pm.  Little slower than a concrete slab, but hey, much more comfortable, certainly less expensive and a beautiful floor as well.  A week will be needed for it to dry before the final step, sealing with linseed oil.
About 11:45 am
12:45 pm
2 pm
Nicole finishing the last section – 3 pm
The final cleanup, the orange color in the sky to the left is from the smoke of the Horseshoe Fire in the Chiricahua mountains, current size 100,000 acres.
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