Workshops: Earthbag Walipini Greenhouse Construction; 29 Oct., 4 & 12 Nov.; Free

Design side view.

We’re building an earthbag walipini greenhouse this fall and we’d like you to join us for the process. This type of greenhouse is buried in the ground to take advantage of the thermal mass of the earth to moderate temperatures in the summer and winter. You’ll get experience building with earthbags — sandbags with a bit of concrete mixed in used to build walls — which are showing themselves to be one of the most versatile, stable, and eco- and pocket-book-friendly solutions for structural walls (read more here, here, and especially here). We’ll be publishing more information, plans, and instructions on our blog in the coming weeks.

Below, you can watch a video showing the basics.

Workshop Information

Design plan view.

This is a series of workshops taking place over three weekends. Each one will cover a different component of construction — you’re welcome to come to any or all that interest you. All workshops will take place at the Low Technology Institute, located in historic Cooksville. The cost is free for two reasons: first, I’m learning as we go and am not an expert; second, this will be somewhat labor intensive, as you’ll be using shovels, shifting earth bags, and so on.

Because this is happening outside, we’ll reschedule for inclement weather. Please come with work gloves, close-toed shoes, and weather appropriate clothing. If you have a shovel, hammer, or other tools you’d like to bring (as appropriate for each workshop, described below), please feel free to bring them. I’ll provide water, coffee, tea, hot coco, and lunch. Please RSVP by emailing us at; please indicate which date(s) you’ll be attending and if you have any dietary restrictions. This workshop is free, but we are a 501(c)(3), member-supported organization and any contributions would be welcome.

Sunday, October 29, 10:00–16:00 — Foundation and Earthbags

We’ll be building the foundation and lowest levels of the walipini. I’ll have the trenches dug and a bag-filling frame built. We’ll lay the gravel foundation, fill bags, and start the lowest levels of the foundation. You’ll learn about basic design considerations, filling bags, laying courses, and tamping.

Saturday, November 4, 10:00–16:00 — Earthbags

This weekend we’ll continue building up the earthbag courses and incorporate a doorway and other design features. You’ll learn about basic design consideration, filling bags, laying courses, tamping, and tying in the sill base plate (to which the roof will be attached).

Sunday, November 12, 10:00–16:00 — Earthbags and Superstructure

In this last weekend, we’ll be framing and constructing the roof of the walipini. Some earthbag filling and finishing may take place, but the majority of the time will be spent tying the roof into the walls and building the roof out of dimensional lumber and clear plastic roofing. You’ll learn some basic carpentry and specialized, earthbag-specific techniques.

Thanks to Wisconsin Brewing Company, Hop Haus Brewing Company, and the Viking Brew Pub for providing empty grain bags for this project.

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