Outdoor Wood-Fired Cooking Complex with Cob Oven & Rocket Stove-fueled Lorena Stovetop in New Mexico

Date/Time
Date(s) - Monday, April 25, 2022 - Monday, May 16, 2022
8:30 am - 5:30 pm


HOST & LOCATION

Our gracious Host for this workshop is Melanie Milasinovich, who has recently established herself near Santa Fe, New Mexico to create Florentia, her new Ecological Homestead and Spiritual Center on a gorgeous plot of land with long sunset views and lots of serenity. Melanie has written up her own introduction to herself and her place:

Welcome Future Cobbers,

Melanie with her Adobe Bricks!

It was only 2 months ago that I left the Azores, where I experienced a 5-week Advanced Cob Workshop with CruzinCobGlobal. It was a living dream, to build a structure from the ground up and above all with like-minded folks. Saying farewell to all the advanced cobbers was emotional as we all had deepened our bond in such a short span in time. Whereas we all got challenged we also got stretched to be more open. Mainly we all experienced the greater web of life, and our interconnectedness to all that is. So many memories to pull from and still today we are so connected as we support each other on our new paths with building. I left feeling empowered, confident and trusting with the quest I have taken on. One which holds a place in my heart for the younger generation and the need to help assist and teach.

The land

I found learning to make structures from Cob is a foundational key component to work with and really plays an important role as it connects us with our ancestors who have created earthen dwellings for eons. As we are becoming more aware, we need to become more rooted into the Earth, as Gaia is always here to show us how to BE on The Earth. This leads me into all the inner and outer journeys in my life that led me to want to work with natural materials in building and how to become more in tune with the subtle energies of the land.

My interests have encouraged my journey into the studies of food and cultures and cuisines. Living communally for many years exposed me to initiation practices in all my spiritual pursuits. I have explored the world of natural healing techniques and therapies, Massage, body work, along with the study of many spiritual traditions. Astrology has also been playing a major role which deepens and enriches my spiritual pursuits. My gratitude goes out to holding a vision and cultivating trust and faith and believing I have discovered my soul’s purpose, which I am finally actualizing today.

Glorious New Mexico sunsets

This place I call home just north of Santa Fe, sits on a small mesa above the Chupadero Valley, laced with many arroyos all around me and in a small subdivision called Tesuque.
It is private, with 360 degree expansive views of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range to the east, the Jemez mountains to the west, and the Rio en Medio River Valley  to the north, which leads to trails and waterfalls. I am surrounded by many arroyos and places to tuck into and explore. The night is a glorious wonder, full of stars and the milky way.

July weather is in the mid 80’s and dry and sometimes we have winds up here, so be prepared. Once in a while a light mist may roll in to the valley. Nights are in the mid-50’s so you need to dress with all seasons in mind, sunscreen and hats, windbreakers, layers.  I look very forward to hosting this workshop this summer and meeting all of you!

 

PROJECT

Beautiful Outdoor Cooking Complex created by Viva Hansen in Taos, New Mexico in October 2020

This 3-week workshop offers students the opportunity to design and build a clay-based wood-fired cooking complex. Using locally sourced materials, students will collaborate to create a traditional ‘beehive’ oven adjacent to a rocket stove-fueled, Lorena-style multi surface cook top. A prep counter and earthen benches are included as well, time and energy permitting. 

Rocket Oven built in Colorado Workshop, September 2020

This workshop is an opportunity to learn about the operational principles of wood-fired cooking, both through the traditional oven, and the rocket stove. Terribly practical and pan-applicable, the skills acquired through this course provide you with relevant knowledge to cook efficiently and comfortably without the need for propane or electricity.

There will be ample time for sculpting, artistic details and creativity, as well as optional extracurricular activities in the evenings.

Beginning with the foundation for the cooking complex and analysis and testing of soil, this workshop gives students a secure understanding of cob building.  This is where the practical aspects of earthen construction begin. Students will familiarize themselves with the principles of insulation, heat retention, and draft, knowledge that can be applied to most if not all earthen construction in general.

 

SCHEDULE

The 3-week, Clay-Based Cooking Complex Workshop begins on Sunday, July 11th, 2021 at 4pm with an Opening Circle & Orientation to our Host’s Site, followed by our Welcome Dinner. After dinner Viva will introduce the workshop schedule. 

The hands-on build will begin Monday morning at 8:30am after breakfast  There is always optional meditation/yoga before breakfast that is either self-led or we may have a volunteer yoga teacher from the group.  We will learn and build every day until 1pm, have lunch and rest until 2:30pm, and on MWF we will have lecture at 2:30pm for up to one hour before starting the afternoon session.  On Tuesdays and Thursdays the afternoon building session will begin at 2:30pm and the day will end at 5:30pm so students can rest and have personal time before dinner. One night a week, instructor Viva Hansen will show slides and videos related to what is being covered that week. Weekends are free and students will have access to the kitchen, but be responsible for their own lunch and dinner.  Breakfast food will be available for students to prepare on the weekends, or, you are welcome to bring your own nourishment. 

On weekends, students may also leave the site and explore the beauty of the surrounding National forests, swimming holes, rivers, and hot springs during the weekends.  There is ample beauty in this area of New Mexico, including the Pecos National Forest, the Taos Ski area, the High Road to Taos (lots of towns and camping areas and trails to explore), the Town of Truches and the Penasco Chimayo Dixon, Pilar (off the Rio Grande Gorge), Rio Grande trails and swimming holes and hot springs off the river. Host will share more information at the workshop Opening.

The last Saturday (July 31st) will be a day to wrap up anything unfinished, clean up the site, and relax together to use the oven for the Graduation Celebration Dinner.  On Sunday morning August 1st, we will have a Closing Circle followed by a Goodbye Brunch to end the workshop.

*International or long-distance traveling students should arrive a day or two before to acclimate and settle in before the workshop begins.* Please let us know if that’s the case.

The detailed 3-week workshop schedule will be presented at the Introduction on Sunday evening.

 

Our daily schedule will be:

6:30-7:30 Yoga/Meditation

7:30-8:15 Breakfast

8:30 Morning Circle

9:00-1:00 Building

1:00-2:30 Lunch & Rest

2:30-3:30 Lecture MWF

3:30-6:00 Building MWF

2:30-5:30 Building TTh

7:00-8:00 Dinner

8:00-9:00 Slides/Videos/Other Activities

 

COURSE CONTENTS

 

Students will learn all the relevant steps to building an earthen oven, a rocket stove, and Lorena-style hot spot pot-wells designed for cooking. This process starts with a footprint, and a stone foundation. Using raw earth and adobes, we will carefully craft the multifaceted anatomy of our outdoor cooking complex. There are many strategic steps in the building process to ensure the proper functioning of both the oven and the rocket stove. Weekly lectures provide theoretical bolstering to the building, as well as weekly slideshows and videos related to natural building.

Our hands-on practice includes, but is not limited to:

digging the footprint for the cooking complex and possible benches

pouring gravel 

building stone foundation 

analyzing soils and materials

making test bricks

making adobes

deciding on correct mixture

making cob w/ partner and solo

building with cob

Possibly preparing and inserting shelves

Possibly inserting bottles and other objects

sculpting

preparing and applying earthen plasters (1 coat)

building insulation layers for oven

making oven pad

building oven mold

building inner oven shell

building insulation layer

building final sculpted cob layer

applying plaster

building the rocket stove core

Fitting the pots and sculpting them into the pot wells

 

 

WORKSHOP REQUIREMENTS & IMPORTANT INFORMATION

 

Students will need to come to workshop and class/building site prepared.

This includes:

Work clothes

Work boots or other closed-toe shoes for foundation & roof days

Flip-flops for cobbing days

Work Gloves for rocks and carpentry

Good Moisturizer

Hat

Sunglasses

Safety Glasses

Earplugs

Tape Measure

Sharp-toothed cheap wood saw

Rounded triangular metal trowel

Water Bottle

Notebook/Pen/Camera

Sample of Your Soil (Optional)

Personal music playlists for working

Also, if you haven’t already, reading “The Hand-Sculpted House” by Ianto Evans, Linda Smiley and Michael Smith, or something equivalent, like “The Cobber’s Companion” by Becky Bee, or “House of Earth” by Conrad Rogue beforehand,  will benefit you greatly. We encourage you to bring your natural building books with you! 

While our cob trainings are physically demanding, in order to complete projects within the timeline of the workshop, we ask students to show up every day of class prepared for the day’s tasks. There will always be opportunities  for lighter work here and there for students who are needing to go a bit slower.  Cob building consists of many elements happening simultaneously that support the flow to be smooth and continuous. Sifting through straw, sifting clay soil and sand, cutting wood, and trimming are less physically intensive than making cob, moving materials, making breads, tossing them to the project…..just ask. In order to reach our goal of finishing in three weeks, everyone’s contribution is counted upon!  We also design the size of the build and workshop based on the number of students.  In the end you may be exhausted, but you will be very proud of our accomplishment!

 

TRANSPORT

Florenco Land Trust

My address is 119 Paseo Encantado NE, Santa Fe, NM. 87506, (following Google maps will take you on a long journey to a locked Gate above the property used only by the Fire Department)

Access: Hwy 78 to Florencio Rd, see directions below

Directions:
Coming from Santa Fe: Take the first Tesuque Village Market Exit to hwy 592, you will pass the famous Tesuque Village Market and Restaurant and a Post office.
Turn right at 592, Four Seasons Resort Sign, I am approx. 5 miles to Camino Chupadero.

Coming from Pojoaque, Taos, Espanola, take the Tesuque South Exit, pass the trailer court and make left onto hwy 592. Four Seasons Resort Sign, I am approx. 5 miles to Camino Chupadero.

Florencio Road

You will come to a stop sign and follow towards Chupadero and Rio en Medio, it’s a steep grade down into the valley. Make a left onto Camino Chupadero and look for a yellow sign on the right, Florencio Rd. Make a left onto Florencio Rd, (a wooden fence and Turquoise door next to the entrance of Florencio follow slowly down the dirt road, it has a few dips and stay to your right when you see Florencio Trail pass Picaflor, the green gate is just on the right. It will be important to close the gate after you enter. Once you crest to the top stay to your right to the 2nd driveway which will have a white storage trailer on the left.

If you have 4WD it’s best to use it going up the hill not to tear up the gravel base.
All front wheel drives are fine to make the drive.

There will be places to park above and coming into the property, it is a long strip of 3.11 acres and not a lot of room to turn around. Roundabout at the top as you climb the hill.

 

LOGISTICS & FACILITIES

Arroyos are situated on all sides of the property. Three empty lots surround my land which are fine to walk on and explore. And near the gate is a short hike onto another arroyo.

The ground is clay, silt, and vegetation is fragile, please stay on designated paths, (human and animal) paths when possible.

Well Water:
Crystal Clear and has some Calcium deposits, great for drinking and washing

Spigot locations:
South East by the white Dome
South corner of the Carport (where hoses are set up for Solar Showering, equipment supplies
North of the Yurt next to the Wooden Portal
West of the Adobe Building
Southwest land is mostly clay and has places designated to walk on.

Electricity:
I have an electrical box for the well, and have made extensions for usage for the yurt, refrigeration and freezer, power tools
Minimal Power usage.
Bring your solar charges for lights and flashlights
Bring Solar charging items for phones if possible,
(will have to do time rotations)
Plug ins South of the Carport, White Dome and extensions by the Greenhouse.

Internet:
Satellite: for Internet
Signal Booster for cell phone service (will not need PW on your phone)

Internet Access: near the Yurt and phone service around the property and below to the gate.
Shaded areas, Deck, Portal, North sides of the Adobe house

Bathing: Solar Showers, rotation with Sun’s Rays South side of Carport
Compost Toilets: (possible porta potty)
Cooking, Preparations near Adobe House and Portal
Propane Tanks

Distances:
Tesuque Village 10 mins
Santa Fe downtown 20 mins
Santa Fe Airport 35 mins
Albuquerque Airport 1hr 15 mins from downtown Santa Fe
Shuttle service will drop off Downtown Santa Fe

Purchase supplies:
Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Sprouts
Gas stations: Santa Fe and Pojoaque

Hiking locations nearby farther away destinations
Ojo Caliente Hot Springs
Indian Ruins, Kivas, Petroglyphs
Santa Fe Plaza and Canyon Art Walk
Taos, Rio Grande, Pilar, Abiquiu Dam, Ghost Ranch and more

 

MEALS & ACCOMMODATIONS

Students will receive snacks and 3 delicious healthy vegetarian meals a day from Monday through Friday prepared by cooks.  If there are meat-eaters we can offer some meat options throughout the week and on Fridays. We will ask about allergies and restrictions a month before the workshop. If you have favorite food snacks and needs you can’t live without, please bring them.  On weekends, breakfast foods will be available for students to make for themselves. Lunch and dinner will not be served on weekends, but students can use the kitchen.

There will be options for car camping on the land, as well as pitching tents. There isn’t ample shade, but Melanie has a large adobe house where six or so students can tent. We are also working with a close neighbor to see if students can camp on their land. There will be two composting restrooms, and two private showering booths using solar showers for cleaning after each day. If you have a solar shower, please bring it!

****Additional Info from Melanie:

Camping:
Stake Tents inside the Adobe house, Room for 6
Winds can be an issue, best to be tucked into areas
There are a couple of places on the land, North, and East that have flat areas

Designated Fire Pits and above Ground Fireplaces

I will connect with the land owner in the area who may rent out space, it has no facilities,
protected areas and places to park. Water can be attained from the well.
Short 5 min walk to work sight
Next Door Neighborhood sight for Renting a house or two.

Supplies

Water jugs large and small
Sunscreen, hats, Sunglasses
Extra powered drinks for dehydration
Solar chargers
Flashlights, headlamps
Water bottles
Hot water Thermos
Warm sleeping bags
Warm clothes, rain and wind gear, dress in layers
Towels, toiletries

 

INSTRUCTOR

Viva teaching Rocket Oven technology in Trinidad, Colorad0, 2020

Viva Hansen was exposed to earthen building from a young age, but it wasn’t until his college years that he started to delve more deeply into Cob and other techniques of natural building. Over the course of the last 10 years, Viva has lead a handful of builds, done many solo projects, and taught a fair amount of workshops. He is particularly passionate about the integration of earthen masonry and fire, leading him to experiment with Rocket Mass Heaters, Lorena stoves, rocket stoves, and ovens. He is very aware of the uniquely therapeutic aspects of sculpture and design, and strives to make every project a piece of functional art. You may read his bio below.

As a kid, Cob was this strange empowering thing my mom did to build us a bigger home. I participated when I wanted, and skipped out when I didn’t. Though as time went on the Cob effect was undeniable. Every time a build was underway there was music and laughter and food and wisdom from people of all ages and backgrounds. 

As I matured through my high school years I was able to involve myself with enough earthen building to feel its practical magic. Then one

Exploring the Azores for the first time, October 2020

summer I created an opportunity to build a meditation room with my high school physics teacher. His passionate involvement with our Indigenous community transformed the project into a spiritual experience. Throughout the summer we made long trips to sacred rivers and hand-picked beautiful stones for the foundation, often walking for miles on a trail with three or four stones in a backpack. Then as I finished my college experience and returned to California, the opportunity to join my mother on her journey bloomed.

For me, Cob is primarily a physical experience. It has always been about sweat and breath. The feel of different dirts and sands, straws and rocks. And it is a mystical experience, bringing me back to the earth. But what I have learned from the last year is that Cob building can be a tool to sew communities back together. To bring “strangers” into a common space and make them family. In that vein, Cob really is a product of my life philosophy. Something that I can stand behind fully because I know that from top to bottom it is peace, hard work, sustainable and love. Here is a short video I made last year that expresses these feelings better than written words.

As I continue to learn in this life I will continue to share what Cob has shared with me.

Note: Work trade applicants who cancel between May 11th and June 11th will forfeit 25% of the fee and after June 11th will forfeit 50% of the fee due to the need to find another work trader or hire someone to fill their position.

Location: Florentia

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