Things have been moving along on our sustainable classroom here at Never Ending Food. Due to the growing number of visitors that we are receiving each week, we decided to work with a local sustainable building group–Grassroots Ecobuild–to construct a classroom made from a combination of rammed earth, earth-bags, and recycled materials. This helps to eliminate the need for cutting down trees to burn bricks and the purchasing of cement.
This classroom, dubbed the ‘Permaculture Discovery Centre‘, will be able to comfortably seat 50-60 participants, as well as having a small store-room for keeping our food and resource display. We are hoping to be able to use the space for teaching about Permaculture, conducting demonstrations, showing videos, and even allowing the public to use it for various events.
We broke ground for the foundation back in May of 2016, and the first rammed-earth construction began in October of the same year. The pictures below are from those beginning stages:
By November of 2016, the crew began to construct the earth-bag walls. Both the earth-bags and the rammed-earth were made from soil dug on-site, mixed with sand, water, and lime. The earth-bags are filled with this mixture and used like large bricks. A strand of barbed wire was used between each layer to help hold the bags in place. We also used the earth-bag technique to create the foundation for the auditorium-style seating for the classroom:
By June of 2017, we were able to begin the process of plastering the walls. Again, this plaster was made with a sustainable mixture of soil, sand, and lime. We were also able to start creating recycled bottle windows, which provide security while still allowing sunlight to shine through:
Along the way, we’ve had a few setbacks due to the rainy seasons, but we are now steaming ahead again full-throttle! In the past few months, we have been able to finalize a lot of the plastering, flooring, framework, and roof supports. We are now quickly approaching the point where all that remains is to put on the roof and hang the doors. The roof will be made with a combination of corrugated tin sheets, recycled tin cans, and recycled plastic bottles (to create a sunroof effect for natural lighting within the classroom). We are also using the area where all the soil was dug during construction to create a large fish pond that will eventually become an area for fish-farming and the raising of ducks and chickens!
If you would like to help support the work we are doing at Never Ending Food, and donate to the construction of the Permaculture Discovery Centre, just click on the PayPal tab on the right of this page. Every little bit helps, and a little bit can go a long way in Malawi! A HUGE thank-you to so many of you who have already given us support! Below are a few pictures of the current status of the classroom: