ESBG 2019


The European Straw Bale Gathering (ESBG) is a biennial event, which the UK is privileged to be hosting, for the first time, in Todmorden, West Yorkshire.

Tickest are available here

ESBG this year is part of the Interreg funded UP Straw project. In keeping with the aims of UP Straw, we will be demonstrating the wonderful insulation, fuel cost cutting and carbon reduction properties of building with straw to: planners, architects, public authorities, universities, self-builders and communities.

ESBG 2019 is all about…

  • Exploring healthy public buildings made from straw
  • Raising awareness of the benefits of constructing public buildings from straw
  • Highlighting features & benefits of straw bale buildings
  • Understanding public procurement, building regulations, green mortgages and insurance
  • Inspirational case studies
  • Networking for professionals and students in the secto r “Straw is an excellent material for building and insulating new and existing buildings. Straw is CO2 negative because CO2 is stored in straw during growth, widely available, fully recyclable and has a rapid growth cycle,” said Barbara Jones, Director of the School of Natural Building. “Straw is warm in winter and cool for ever!”

Tulse Hill Straw Bale Build

In the urban landscape of London, where land to build is scarce, and new build opportunities are few and far between, the area of Tulse Hill is fortunate to have within its community a construction that is currently taking place on epic proportions.

Arguably, Europe’s largest urban straw bale build, the Tulse Hill Bale Build has markedly grown into a sight to behold!

Richard Dormandy and Nicole Lyon are orchestrating the construction of the church hall, which began in 2017. With work mainly carried out by volunteers they intend for fitting out to be completed by 2021.

This is a formidable piece of work which was initially assisted by our founding members Straw Works.

The church which is adjacent to the new hall was completed in the mid 19th century, and the site where the hall is being erected was demolished in the 1980s. With a group as enthusiastic as this to bring new energy to their surroundings and build their own meeting place with consideration to the planet, it comes as no surprise that this creation has developed as strikingly magnificent as it is.

Tubs of clay originally excavated from the site’s ground

The Douglas Fir frame went up in March 2017 and the office and kitchen will be built-in this year (2019). Clay plaster will be applied as well as limecrete for the natural finish….

…and the lift and stairs will complete the picture.

Like what you see? Want to help? Contact Nicole below:

We have great pleasure to announce Richard Dormandy will be at this year’s ESBG2019. Purchase Early Bird tickets here

Come and see us on the @NaturalBuildUK stand G57, at @futurebuild: Today – Thursday!

Come and visit our director @JNaturalBuilder from @hartwyn and @NaturalBuildUK partners at @futurebuild : Stand G57

Omer Saatcioglu from University of Bath is speaking at the BSBG

Really pleased to have Omer presenting the excellent research work from the University of Bath – The lecturer will give information about a load-bearing straw-bale wall assembly which aims to be an economical alternative for the countries where timber is a limited natural source.

Get your tickets now from


N.Omer Saatcıoğlu


University of Bath

Lecture title:

Re-Reading Straw Bale  

Brief description:

The lecture will be subjected to the summary of an ongoing research project at the University of Bath about the straw-bale construction. The lecturer will give information about a load-bearing straw-bale wall assembly which aims to be an economical alternative for the countries where timber is a limited natural source.


Speaker Bio:

Saatcioglu is a “Visiting Research Fellow” in “Center for Innovative Construction Materials (BRE CICM)” at Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering in “University of Bath” and currently been employed as an “Assistant Professor Dr.” at “Istanbul Kultur University”. His major research interests include “Straw Bale Design”, “Green Building Systems and Technologies” and “Simplicity and Complexity in Architecture”.

Saatcioglu has taken an active role, as an architect, in the process of designing and constructing Turkey’s first load-bearing straw-bale building. Under the organization of Turkish Wheat Association, design and construction processes were completed as a demonstration project for the public to visit. At the same time, straw-bale construction and green architecture lectures were given by him to the volunteers and the public. Saatcioglu has several papers, proceedings and two international patent pending applications about straw-bale construction.

Rae Parkinson is teaching clay plastering!

The wonderfully talented, Rae Parkinson, is teaching a clay plastering workshop at the Big Straw Bale Gathering! 

All workshops and talks and included in the ticket price – so get your ticket now here! 

Workshop Synopsis:
Learn the preparation of straw walls for plastering, application of clay slip and body coat. Plus some tips and tricks from a decade of experience!
Rae’s bio:
Rae discovered the world of natural building in 2007 and trained as a ‘Straw Bale Building Ambassador’ with Amazon Nails in 2008. Since then she has continued to work closely with Barbara Jones in amazonails, Straw Works and The School of Natural Building, as a practitioner and a trainer. Rae claims her first forays into natural plastering brought her back from the edge of global despair and is a great believer in the therapeutic benefits of clay and lime plastering.

BSBG Workshop – Will Stanwix – Making Clay Straw Blocks

Will Stanwix, co-author of ‘The Hempcrete Book: Designing and building with hemp-lime’ will be running a workshop at the Big Straw Bale Gathering teaching you how to create you own clay straw blocks. Learn about how to vary the mix to create insulating blocks or mass blocks and how to lay them. 

The practical workshops are a massive part of the Big Straw Bale Gathering. A chance for you to learn the hands on skills necessary to build your own home, or brush up on some of the latest techniques.

Workshops are included in the ticket price, and will require signing up on the morning of the workshop (Don’t worry there will be plenty of sessions!).

Tickets are selling fast, so get your tickets here now! 

BSBG Workshop – Hawkland – Intro to building with bales

The practical workshops are a massive part of the Big Straw Bale Gathering. A chance for you to learn the hands on skills necessary to build your own home, or brush up on some of the latest techniques.

Workshops are included in the ticket price, and will require signing up on the morning of the workshop (Don’t worry there will be plenty of sessions!).

First workshop up is:

Intro To Bale Building

From resizing a bale to notching a post. Build a complete wall, straighten and prep for plaster. Prefect Beginner session.

Workshop led by: Hawkland Ecological Building

Get your tickets now!

Keynote speakers – Ed & Rowena Waghorn

We are so pleased to add Ed and Rowena Waghorn as keynote speakers for the Big Straw Bale Gathering. Their Episode of Grand Designs, which took over 10 years to complete, is a work of art. We are delighted they are coming to share their views on building a home.

Name:  Ed and Rowena Waghorn
Talk Title:  Building a home – enjoying the circuitous route
Brief description :  We will concentrate the talk on how we are taking our time and being resourceful with what is around us and how we make building our home part and parcel of our family life.

Emma Appleton – Speaker at the BSBG

Emma Appleton speaker at the BSBG

We are so pleased to announce Emma Appleton’s talk at the Big Straw Bale Gathering.  Emma is a very talented straw bale builder and heritage woodworker. Warm, bright and just enough is her design mantra.

Tickets are on sale now for the reduced price (thanks to European funding) of £75. Get yours now!

Name: Emma Appleton

Organisation: Emma Appleton

Lecture title: How can our businesses be anti-capitalist? And is that even possible?

Brief description:

A discussion that tackles the way natural building (and the small businesses that have built up within it) can be, and are, a part of this surge to create something new and outside of patriarchal capitalism. We will explore ways we can  transform our relationships to money, work, the earth, and our bodies that further challenge the status quo. And try to determine what can we do to push the boundaries that will tip the balance towards a community minded economy?

Speaker Bio:

Hello. My name is Emma Appleton. I am a builder and community facilitator.

I build houses and community buildings which are warm, bright and just enough. I am inspired by buildings that have a simple beauty and work just perfectly for their owner. The ease of functionality of a space has an inherent attractiveness. Warm, bright and just enough is my design mantra to help me focus on the things that really matter.

I am a trained carpenter and joiner I specialised in Heritage woodwork following an apprenticeship with the Princes Foundation. It is inspiring to work on buildings that tell stories of their history. I was taught by an incredible master craftsperson who leaves a relief of a lion’s head cast in lead in each of his projects for craftspeople of the future to discover as their complete their own repairs.

James Shorten from Regenerative Settlement Trust

james_shorten speaker at BSBG

We are incredibly pleased to add James Shorten to our massive list of speakers for the Big Straw Bale Gathering. James was the main author on the Welsh Government’s One Planet Development guidance. He is a planning expert and will be talking about regenerative settlements.

James is part of an all star natural building lineup giving talks and presenting workshops a the Big Straw Bale Gathering – Get your tickets from the online store now! 

Name: James Shorten
Organisation: Regenerative Settlement Trust
Lecture title: Regenerative Settlement – A New Paradigm For Planning and Eco- Development
Brief description:
Regenerative Settlement is a new way of thinking about development – that development can make things better, not worse, which is what is generally assumed. Nearly 30 years of planning work have led to the formulation of this recipe for sustainable communities which also ticks the planning boxes. An introduction to the concept, our live projects (including a 100 house ecovillage).

Speaker bio: Planner with 25+ years of experience in Low Impact Development. Main author of the Welsh Government’s One Planet Development Guidance. Runs Geo, a consultancy specialising in sustainable rural development projects, large and small.