An Outdoor Cob Kitchen at Quinta do Rabo de Palha in the Alentejo (Portugal)

Date(s) - Sunday, July 30, 2017 - Sunday, August 6, 2017
9:00 am - 5:00 pm

(note: date is in European format…para ler em português favor de usar GoogleTranslate na coluna direita em baixo)

Location & Project

Quinta do Rabo de Palha is a 7-hectare parcel just outside of the city of Castro Verde, in the Lower Alentejo region of southern Portugal. This region is traditionally known for raising free-ranging cattle, sheep and goats and growing grain for feed. The plains in this part of the Alentejo are extensive and far-ranging. Several protected bird species like the buzzard (otis tarda) and the “peneireiro das torres” live here. Birdwatchers love to frequent this area.

Susana and Rui, our “green” hosts, who own a successful local solar installation company and love to receive AirBnB guests at their home, purchased the abandoned Quinta land in 2013.  The project is a family farm for breeding the regional “serpentina” goats, growing vegetables and planting an orchard.  In their fields they grow pumpkins, tomatoes, zuchinni, eggplant, cabbage, lettuce, favas, onions, garlic, peas, potatoes, etc.  Their orchard consists of fig and olive trees.  They have built a barn for their growing families of goats and now produce the renowned, unique and delicious serpentina goat cheese (a mini goat cheese-making workshop can be planned as an added bonus!)

July and August is usually hot in the Alentejo, however we will be in the shade of olive, fig trees and cork trees on their farm, with a municipal swimming pool nearby and the beautiful beaches of the Atlantic coastline only an hour away for the weekend break.

In this protected region, due to all the endangered bird species, the project they have decided on is a beautiful semi-circular outdoor cob kitchen with an oven built into the wall.  We will have alot of freedom in design and will be coming in with the foundation already built, as it is a 15-day workshop.  We will however build the whole oven, from foundation to completion!  We will also be putting on a living or green roof and enjoy a pizza party from our finished oven our last night!

Workshop will be taught in English and Portuguese, as needed, with option for French and Spanish.

This workshop will provide the requirements needed for the Intermediate Cobber Certificate.


Day 1 (July 30) will be arrival and settling in day for students.  We will begin our program in the evening after dinner.  Days 2-7 we will have theory/lectures and hands-on building practice every day.  Since it is VERY HOT right now in the Alentejo region during the afternoon time, we will start at 8am to 12pm, have lunch from 12pm to 1pm and then rest or go swimming until 4:30, when we have lecture until 5:30, followed by 2 more hours of hands-on practice from 6-8pm.  On Day 8 we will have a half day and finish after lunch on Sunday August 6th.

The daily schedule will be adjusted to the climate but based on this structure:

7:15-8 Breakfast
8:00-12:00 Hands-On Class
12:00-1:00 Lunch
1:00-4:00 Rest
4:00-5:30 Lecture/Slides/Discussion
6-8 Hands-On Class
8-9:00 Dinner

Detailed Course Contents

Through graphic lectures, students will learn every phase of building a Cob structure from the foundation to the roof, including floor, sculpting and plaster. The practical learning will begin with the cob walls as the foundation will be built before the workshop (students are welcome to volunteer and learn with local masons).  The whole oven will be built from foundation to final sculpting and plaster.

Our hands-on practice will include:

analyzing soils and materials
making test bricks
deciding on correct mixture
deciding on best location
making cob w/ partner and solo
building with cob
preparing and inserting the door
preparing and inserting fixed and opening windows
preparing and inserting shelves
inserting bottle windows and other objects
inserting electrical wiring and plumbing in walls
preparing and applying earthen plasters
pouring earthen floor
preparing walls for roof connection
building roof frame
building a thatch roof with local reed/straw
making small-scale cob designs of future projects                                                                                                                                                                     

There will also be discussions, slideshows and videos that will support and enhance students’ understanding of cob materials, cob building, design, geography, budgeting, starting a teaching and/or construction business and possible legal issues for building.  We will also discuss opportunities to become part of the CruzinCobGlobal team as as assistant, intern and teacher.

Accomodations & Meals

We will stay on the land in a number of optional arrangements. 

  1. Camping in your own tents = Free
  2. Camping in our large communal tent = Free
  3. Mattress in our container room = Free
  4. Our Caravan = Free

And for those who want more conventional comfort there are a few more options in town, only a few miles away:

  1. Bed in our AirBnB room = 20€/1 person, 30€/2 people, 36€/3 people
  2. Hotel in town = 50€-70€ a night for a double
  3. Apartment in town = 90€/4 people

Three vegetarian meals a day will be prepared onsite with local organic produce as much as possible.  If there are non-vegetarians, we will aim to accommodate with animal protein in some meals.  The daily charge for 3 meals is 15€/day.

Laundry service will be available.

If you have any special needs please let us know ASAP.


Getting to Castro Verde is easy. It’s right off of the A2 Highway and can be reached directly by car or bus. 

There are flights into Faro and Lisbon, the closest airports.  From there you can arrive by bus.

There is a train from Lisbon to Faro and there is a stop called Funcheira only 20km away from Castro Verde. We are happy to pick you up for the cost of gas.

We recommend that all our international students have comprehensive travel insurance for cancellation, medical expenses, personal accident, baggage, money and liability before travelling.

Important Information Regarding Physical Aspect

Students will need to come prepared for physical labor from Day 1.  That being said, students must tend to their own personal needs, drink alot of water, rest when needed and exert themselves at a steady pace.

Students who cannot do the physical work should let us know before the workshop begins so we can adjust appropriately. It is totally OK to come for the lecture/theory part, and then help the building part in less physically demanding ways, ie cutting straw, sifting for plaster, hammering nails into frames or shelves, sculpting, plastering, cutting bottles. There is alot to do besides making and building with cob!!!


Wifi will be available onsite and students can also purchase a national sim card and data package with their own connection on their phone. Internet connection is excellent on the island.

What should I bring?

Work clothes, a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, water bottle, flip flop sandals, snacks, notebook, pen, camera, USB stick, beach and hiking clothes, thin plastic or rubber gloves, a sample of your local soil you might use, personal trowel(s), hammer, saw and level are recommended if possible.

Required Reading

“The Hand-Sculpted House” by Ianto Evans, Michael Smith and Linda Smiley

Please bring to the Course.


Claudine Désirée, founder and director of CCG, learned how to cob with Michael Smith in 2003 in northern CA and has been building and teaching ever since completing her first project,

The International Cob Queen!!!

her legal 200 ft2 studio, in her backyard. She was one of the first people to legalize a cob building on the west coast of the US, where the building code laws are the most stringent due to high earthquake risk.

In 2008, she created SunflowerCobBuilding which became CruzinCob and then, in April 2015, evolved into CruzinCobGlobal, the international cob workshop business she runs from wherever she happens to be on her bike on the Planet.  To date she and her team has taught close to 100 workshops, 20 of which have been part of CCG’s new international circuit since the Spring of 2015 in the following countries: Spain, Senegal, Cabo Verde, France, Morocco and Portugal.  This year CCG will also be in Zanzibar and the Azores Islands before returning to the US and heading to Latin America.


Our vision is two-fold. First, we seek to expand the global awareness, understanding and practical experience of Earthen “Cob” Construction as a safe, healthy, ecological, economical, strong and durable building technique everywhere on the Planet. Secondly CCG seeks to contribute to the reduction in concrete-based construction and cement production thereby increasing the well-being of all Life and our Planet Home.
Our mission is to collaborate with individuals and communities around the Planet in organizing and holding Cob Building workshops in which we lead an international/intercultural group of 10-15 students in the construction of all (foundation, walls and roof) or part (just walls) of a small structure (10-15m2 or 110-165ft2) in a period of 10-28 days. The standard workshop is 10m2 in 2 weeks. We also teach 3-4 day Cob Oven workshops as a shorter and easier option.

Fee & Payment

Total Cost for Tuition, 3 Meals/day and Camping/C0ntainer/Campervan Accomodations:


For the other options, please calculate accordingly (see Accomodations above).

Please confirm with payment by July 26th AT THE LATEST!

Payment in full is due by July 26th.

Maximum class size: 10

Students can pay online using Paypal, Venmo, Transferwise or a Bank Deposit in the US, Europe or Morocco.    A 3% fee is added for Paypal processing in US and 5% for international payments.  Please make sure to pay the commission or add the amount to your payment so we get the full amount required!.Venmo is for US residents only (no fee), and Transferwise is for bank transfers from Europe to the US with very low fees of 1%.

Location: Quinta do Rabo de Palha