Natural Building Workshops

Natural Building Workshops

Is living in the tropics in your own hand built home part of your permaculture dream?

Does working with communities to repair and rebuild sustainably feel like your mission in life?

Do you enjoy building and creating installations from bamboo, earth and straw?

If you said yes to any of the above, we have a natural building workshop for you!

January 16-31 Finca Mystica, Ometepe Island, Lake Nicaragua (Lago Cocibolca)

Join us in the lush environs of majestic Finca Mystica.  Located on the western slope of Volcán Maderas on the Island of Ometepe.

From the evening of Jan. 16-31, we will offer a comprehensive introduction to Natural Building. This course is based on our experience designing and building dozens of projects with communities all over the world. The core curriculum will cover basic design, project planning, materials, methods and equipment. Hands on activities will include projects on Finca Mystica as well as in the local village.

This certificate-based course allows participants to customize their learning experience before arriving to the workshop. Each applicant will receive a one on one interview with our curriculum staff. Participants will receive a course syllabus with suggested reading and viewing material. In this way the workshop begins at registration. Certification is contingent on successful completion of the course as well as demonstration of skill, and completion of personalized assignments before arriving to site.


Our time will be spent completing an earthen guest house on the farm, including construction of earthen walls, foundation sections and roofing. We will learn to apply finish plasters on the already complete farm kitchen’s adobe walls and on the earthen oven completed last year. At the village community center, we will erect a shade structure to accompany the recently completed additions to the basketball court.

Natural Building Workshop Course Content


Site analysis, orientation, soil identification, understanding building codes, resource recognition and basic sketch drawing skills. We will illuminate considerations for building in seismic areas and a range of  environmental conditions (temperate to tropical). Included in the design section will be some tips of the trade for working on community design related projects and creating project proposals.

Project Planning

Timelines, budgets, human resource management, predictive planning.


We will cover many aspects of the selection harvesting/collection, analysis and testing of earth, straw and other fibers, wood, bamboo, lime and stone. The training will include a selection of standard testing protocols referenced from international material and building codes.


After completing the material section we will seamlessly turn towards the application of those materials. With earth we will take a close look at Adobe, cob, daub, earthen plasters and floors and more. We will explore bamboo and wood and there many uses as a stand alone construction material or combined with the earth, straw and other elements into wattle and daub, bahareque, and taquezal.

A Day in the Life – Sample Schedule

7-8 am – Personal time, great time of day for yoga, meditation, swimming hiking the property or just relaxing!

8-9 am – Breakfast

9-10 am – Group orientation and learning session

10-11:30 am – Hands on Learning

11:30-11:45 am – Clean up and Close morning session

11:45-1:30 pm – Lunch & personal time

1:30-3:30 p.m.  Afternoon learning session (per daily curriculum)

Classes start promptly, please be ready to participate.

3:30-5:30 pm – Hands on Learning

5:45-7 pm – Dinner & personal time

7-8 pm – Some evenings we will have supplemental slideshows. Many evenings will be free, with opportunities to get to know each other, play music, and enjoy the evening.

8 pm onward – personal time – Get some good rest; the next day starts the night before 😉


All meals will be served in the Roots N Fruits Cafe & Luna’s Lounge. Common dietary needs can be accommodated, just let us know. The workshop menu will be set, additional food and drinks will be available for purchase.

Roots N Fruits Cafe & Luna’s Lounge at Finca Mystica

Our intimate and friendly kitchen offers some of the freshest foods you have ever eaten. Most of our ingredients come from our farm or within the village grown by our neighbors. We offer a little bit of everything from traditional Nicaraguan dishes to other international fare. Our focus is to be conscious of our ingredients and offer a healthy meal made with love. We try to suit all diets from vegans to meat eaters. Luna’s Lounge offers beer, wine and cocktails throughout the evening. All meals are made from scratch!

Tuition 2-week Course – Includes instruction, hands on training materials, manuals, 3 meals per day.

$1200 – Camping Option – Live in the midst of Finca Mystica’s tropical grounds, with access to beautiful earthen built showers and restrooms. Participant provides own camping gear; tent,tarps, bedding, and whatever else you need to be comfortable.

$1500 – Shared Dormitory –  Quantities limited. Stay in our unique handcrafted, round-shaped earth building. There are 6 double beds. Bedding, mosquito net and fan provided for each bed. Couples or friends wishing to share a bed may do so, but should notify us so beds are allocated appropriately. People sharing a bed need only purchase a companion ticket as described below.

$2000 – Private Earthen Cabin – For those preferring privacy, or traveling with a partner or a group of friends, consider these beautiful and unique structures. There are 3 cabins with 2 beds, each can accommodate up to 4 people. Bedding, mosquito net and fan provided.

$1000 Companion Ticket – Those sharing a cabin or bed are eligible for a reduced companion ticket. Due to facilities and land maintenance this option is not available to people camping in their own tent.

Deposit Due at Registration is 30% of tuition and housing option selected. Deposit is NON REFUNDABLE. Final payments must be received by Dec.1, 2014. Reservations not paid in full by Dec.1, 2014 will be forfeited to the waiting list.

“Early is on time!”

Arrive on the afternoon of January 16th take some time to get settled in and join us for the first evening meal. After completion of the event the morning of the 31st enjoy a relaxing morning on the farm and stick around for our last meal as a group at lunchtime. Our team is ready to help you have a smooth transition to and from Finca Mystica.

To receive the best out of this training, plan to be present for the entire workshop and prepared to do the prerequisite assignments before arrival. On site our most important obligation is to each other and the schedule.

Registration and Inquiry, email

Our staff will reach out to you in the coming weeks to schedule an interview.

For more information on how to get to Finca Mystica go to

The Natural Builders is working in collaboration with Finca Mystica, a farm which creates jobs for the local community and stewards 25 acres of protected forest. The Finca Mystica family and neighbors have already built many earthen structures for use by the local village, as well as hospitality on the farm.

The Certificate: 

The natural builders certificate training programs offer a unique opportunity for those interested in gaining project-based experience in an environment of active professionals. Each workshop and certificate are tailored to the training environment and student projects.

We work closely with students in the pre and post workshop period to assure that students are getting the most out of their training process.

Acceptance of this certificate towards school credit is variable dependent on your university or institution of enrollment. We are happy to work with your university or professional organization to offer accreditation through the training process.

(*The Natural Builders is not a licensing agency. The certificate training course by no means implies professional licensing has been obtained. Please check in your state or region for relevant laws regarding the offering of professional services.)