Apprenticeship Program

APPRENTICESHIPS FOR 2016 WILL NOT BE HELD ONSITE AT CCC THIS YEAR ~ PLEASE CONTAT OUR ALUMNI AT SUNDOGBUILDERS.NET  or  Please email for other opportunities and connections to our alumni offering full apprenticeships.  Several camping internships on a work trade basis may be available during parts of 2016 if you are interested call the office for inquiry.  Still seeking finish woodworkers that want to trade your skills for learning natural building skills, if you or someone you know is handy with wood we could sure welcome you to the Cob family!)

Concerned about the world's state of affairs? Ready to be part of the solution? Begin now, start with home. Two programs to guide you in making changes in your lifestyle, consumerism, health and well-being, career and livelihood, based on ecological values and Natural Building principles and practices. This is designed to support you into creating a life that you, your family and community can feel proud of. We now offer two new custom-designed training programs for persons looking for a lifestyle and career change. You will have support in adjusting your lifestyle to fit your conscience and to meet the new conditions of the 21st century.

Cob Natural Building Apprenticeship The Natural Builder program will help you become skilled as a professional Natural Builder or teacher, and will enable you to build your own Natural Home. Covers all aspects of building cob and natural homes using a range of earth building techniques and other natural materials - wood, both milled and recycled, stone, lime, clay, straw, together with creative use of industrial and commercial waste and surplus. We'll work on all phases of a house - walls, floors, roofs, etc., helping complete buildings already in progress at the school and beginning new buildings elsewhere. We will also work on honing skills in putting the final and beautiful touches on buildings. The emphasis is on a hands-on understanding of materials and how they work, design, and creative space-creation. Mostly you will work alongside a professional/instructor on a one on one basis.Instructors may include Linda Smiley, Betty Seaman, Bernhard Masterson, Greg Lalish, Allie Maggio, Ianto Evans, the Edlesons, Kiko Denzer and a host of nationally known professionals.

Apprenticeship this year will begin at a 3 week course with one of our veteran alumni in LosOlivos California. After that there are many options where our apprentices can continue at a variety of other hosts including here in Coquille, Oregon.  We have structured this years apprenticeship to be flexible and specifically tailored to meet the needs and desires of each of our applicants, insted of attempting another "one-size" fits all program.  The apprenticeship program is a year long committment, where Phase I will be through May 9th in Los Olivos, CA; Phase II may be camping out with us at Cob Cottage Company in Coquille through the end of the building season or with other CCC alumni/instructors; thereafter continued training for the balance of the year will be on a case by case basis.  Limit will be six apprentices, three at the Coquille site during Phase II.

The Ecological Gardener is an experimental program to jump-start you in a lifetime of understanding food production and raising healthy food. See the workshop schedule for details. Only two apprentices selected annually. A Cob Cottage Company apprenticeship is a 12 month program including training at the Cob Cottage Company while we camp together, followed by practicums with other Natural Builders and Ecological Gardeners. You will receive upon completion, a certificate, following which we give support and guidance in your new career. After your completion of the program, we can help you find appropriate paid work within the Natural Building or ecological food production movements, or possibly could offer you a position with the Cob Cottage Company.

THEMES to learn by

    • PERCEPTION and AWARENESS: of land, surroundings, processes – both ecological and social. Industrial consumerism, history, watching Earth turn, conserve cultures.
    • ECOLOGY of HOUSE: local and distant effects of buildings on ecology and society. Production and consumption in the home. Slowing entropy.
    • DESIGN: creating durable systems; turn problems to assets. Gloves not boxes. Passive solar. Indoor/outdoor rooms. Place making. Siting. LESS.
    • MATERIALS: Geological vs. Biological. Selection for re-use. No waste. Local sourcing. Properties of materials, durability, toxins. Combination.
    • CRAFTSMANSHIP: Quality of work, what is quality? Feel of built places. Effect of beauty on all senses. Durability. Tools, selection and care.
    • FOCUS: Time management. Avoiding bottlenecks, when to multitask. Rhythm enjoyment. Planning ahead, even beyond your lifetime.
    • PERSONAL HEALTH: Body mechanics, conserving your abilities. Safety-dangers. When to switch jobs. Toxins, sharpness, heights, heavy objects. Mechanizing.
    • ETHICAL CLARITY: Aligning your actions with your beliefs. Using less money. Being a model of what you believe in. Working for the future, for all Life.
    • REINFORCING COMMUNITY: Work teams, playmates. Involving volunteers, integrating spectators. Partnerships, collaboration. Cob-toss, co-lifting, carrying.
    • INSPIRING/INSTRUCTING OTHER PEOPLE: teaching courses, giving talks, demo’s. Publishing, Web and paper. Trainees, apprentices, helpers, a whole team approach.
  • A SERVICE NOT A BUSINESS: Listen carefully, how can you best help? What is the trade? Avoid things unjoyful. Cutting out money. Don’t feed banks, lawyers, government or corporations.


We have decades of experience, gradually refining a more ecological way of living. We grow much of our food and you could be involved in that work. The CCC site is independent of public power, water supplies, or sewage. While no one lives here year round, we have installed systems that allow our camping experience to be more like off-grid living!  We have our own gravity-fed water system, composting toilets, and solar power station. We teach not only technical skills but a whole approach to living well in a world of fewer resources.  Whether it be here at our Coquille Oregon site or at Spirit Pines Santuary, you will benefit in a whole approach to sustainable living - in California you will also benefit for the continual mindfulness and resourcefulness of water conservating and living in a community very supportive of that and the environment.


Call to discuss.  Our goal is to help you meet your needs and desire for learning, flexible enough so that anyone can participate!

You are expected to assemble your own tool kit, but initially CCC can lend out some specialist tools. Some courses we teach are available to you without further fees; you'll be in the privileged position of assistant. You will be expected to fund your travel to other building projects, though we will be happy to help assist you in making your travel arrangements and carpools.

Preparations That Could Help You:

    • Read The Hand Sculpted House thoroughly, and as much as possible on Natural Building and general construction. Here's a brief suggestion list (other good books are listed on the Reader's back page):
        • *The Hand Sculpted House. Ianto Evans, Michael Smith and Linda Smiley. Chelsea Green, 2002. Available at a discount from CCC for $30 cash, $50 for two.
        • *Earth Building and the Cob Revival: a Reader, Cob Cottage Co., 1996,
        • Homing Instinct: Using Your Lifestyle to Design and Build Your Home. John Connell, 1993 Warner Books.
        • The Owner-Built Home. Ken Kern, 1975. Charles Scribner's Sons.
        • Places of the Soul. Christopher Day, 1990. Aquarium Press.
        • A Pattern Language. Christopher Alexander et al, 1977. Oxford University Press.
        • *The Art of Natural Building. Joseph Kennedy et al, editors, New Society, 2002.
        • *Shelter. Lloyd Kahn, 1973. Shelter Publications.
        • *Homework. Lloyd Kahn, 2004. Shelter Publications.
        • *Rocket Mass Heaters, Ianto Evans with Leslie Jackson. Cob Cottage Co., 2008.

      * These titles are available from CCC. Refer to our book order page for details.

    • Visit Natural Building sites (and conventional building sites). Ask questions, observe how buildings are put together, asking yourself exactly how each part is attached and why. Help out anyone who is building anything with any kind of materials. Get to know technical terms; expand your building vocabulary.
    • Take a basic ecology course, read up on woodland ecology and forest management, study soils and clays. Spend time digging holes, cutting down trees, hauling rocks around. Particularly, get in the habit of examining and testing soils (see The Hand Sculpted House Chapters 5 and 8) wherever you go. Get to know the differences. Make test bricks, observe how well they hold together, if they crack, etc.
    • Prepare your tool kit. At the minimum you'll need:
        A builder's level, preferably 4' long, a machete, a good sharp pocket knife, a 6" or 8" flat file, a shovel, a 16' to 25' measuring tape, a hammer, a sharp hatchet, a mattock/Pulaski for excavation, a handsaw.
    • Also very useful are:
        5 gallon buckets, a wheelbarrow, a blue tarp (8' x 10' minimum size), a glasscutter, an old saw for trimming cob, a cordless drill/driver, a pool float for flooring.

Have the basic kit upon arrival, but if you're flying, larger tools can be bought locally when you arrive.

The Ecological Gardener Program

A practical apprenticeship focused on providing a diversity of food year round for the school. Decisions are made based on careful observation of soils, microclimate, light, weather, our own eating habits and the ecology of each food plant. Ecological Gardeners will be mostly in our organic garden in Coquille, and in the Center's kitchen. We will work the quarter acre garden, pioneering cultivation on land which has never before been dug; we'll test a wide variety of edible and display plants, both herbaceous and hardwooded. Ianto has gardened in the western Oregon since 1973, breeding locally suited varieties and adjusting to local soils and microclimates. We grow many unusual vegetables and fruits not normally seen here, such as citrus, guavas, oca, yacon, mashua, etc. Apprentices will be involved in every stage, from cultivation to seed to table, including saving seed, propagation, crop storage, drainage, irrigation, soil amendment, garden structures and the experimental design of food polycultures. We will all camp onsite during the season and your work will be with Ianto mostly, though you will need to be resourceful and self-motivated for the periods he's out of the country and teaching elsewhere. Gardens need constant attention and vigilance. We will take only two or three Ecological Gardeners but you have a support team. Building and other workshops held at the Center will be open at halfprice or trade. Read everything you can find on ecological gardening; you'll have to hunt, most of it's buried. Specifically, we recommend:

    • Growing Food West of the Cascades. Steve Solomon, 1981. Sasquatch Books. Probably the best bioregional gardening book in N. America. Buy this one.
    • Your Kitchen Garden, George Seddon. Mitchell Beazley, 1975. A (thoroughly) English comprehensive gardening guide. Buy the U.S. Edition if possible.
    • Ecology. Odum. The basic college text, still really valuable. Find 2nd hand or at a library.
    • Territorial Seed Company Catalog. Send a couple of bucks to TSC, Cottage Grove, OR. 97424
    • Gaia's Garden. Toby Hemenway, 2001. Chelsea Green. Library. Note especially 2 pages on Ianto's system of polyculture.
    • The Lost Language of Plants. Stephen Harrod Buhner. Insightful and well researched. Highly recommended. .
    • The Botany of Desire. Michael Pollan, 2001. Random House. Thought provoking and thorough, a viewpoint on cultivated plants. We also highly recommend other Pollan books, especially The Omnivore's Dilemma. .
    • Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties. Carol Deppe, 1993. Little Brown. Specialized but inspiring. She has a section on Ianto's work with favas.
    • Cornucopia. Stephen Facciola, 1990. Kampong Publications. Unbelievably thorough catalog and sourcebook of the world's edible plants. Unique and irreplaceable. You may have to buy it if you're a serious gardener.
  • The Oxford Book of Food Plants. Masefield, et al, 1969. Oxford University Press. All the world's major crop plants, color drawings, origins, history, ecology. Hard to find.

How To Apply To Each of the Apprenticeships:

First, phone to make sure we still have an opening. If we have, we'll ask for a Letter of Intent that should include: 1. your skills and history 2. what you plan to do with this experience 3. Most Important, we need to hear how you think an apprenticeship with us will affect: A. Your personal development B. Society in general C. The global ecosystem 4. what your other options are With your letter of intent, please send a recent photo and a $100 processing fee (cash or postal money order bought from the Post Office) - deductable against apprentice fees if you are accepted. We'd like phone numbers of two references with whom you have worked or lived. Then, we'll talk with you by phone. If you're accepted you will need to send a nonrefundable deposit within 24 hours via a Postal Money Order or cash. We do not accept checks or bank drafts, or cashier's checks. Please contact us directly for payment options. The remaining money will be paid on arrival at the Center. Phone us to confirm you have mailed your deposit. We will schedule a trial period and will evaluate at the end of the 1st month. If this placement in not in the best interests of both student and Center we will refund your fee minus the Non Refundable Deposit. We will not give you any refund after the 1st month. Normally you will work/learn a 5-6 day week, 7am to dark, long hours, often with a long lunch break. We expect you to be focused and productive and take interest in every aspect of co-camping at the Center. You're expected to help cook, maintain buildings and grounds, give tours, run errands, do repairs, etc. Self-motivation and good listening skills are important.

Our Site:

Our summer-time campus is located in the native rainforest of the southern Oregon coast, half an hour from spectacular beaches. Work began on the raw site in 2001 with many volunteers, visitors and those seeking knowledge. We now have a dozen cob, roundwood and strawbale demonstration buildings sculpted into the landscape that you can tour and learn from. The land is remote and rustic. We wheelbarrow materials to the sites, up steep hills and across flimsy bridges. Don't expect city facilities; Eugene is 150 miles away, San Francisco is 500. Coquille (pop. 4000) is close, 4 miles, with a bank, small natural food store, hardware store, etc. Local people are nice, conservative and very astute. Access passes close to the houses of several neighbors, so for their sakes we'll limit total town trips to one per day for all our needs. Expect all weather except snow. It is always cool at night, seldom gets too hot. Bugs are not a problem.


3 meals a day, mostly vegan/vegetarian and organic. Your fee pays for involvement and some instruction, not gourmet specialties, so expect basic nutritious fare, nothing fancy. We can't cater to special diets yet there will be a range of options at most meals. Our policy is to use our own produce and purchased bulk supplies rather than buy packaging, buy local whenever possible, and avoid animal fats, products from distant producers and food with poisons on it.


Make sure you're fit and healthy. Are you at a healthy weight? Do you easily tire? We work long days and the site is demanding. Toughen your feet by walking barefoot a lot, up to a month in advance.


Our instruction team is large and diverse. All are experienced dirtyhands builders and very skilled teachers. Volunteers that come together at different times throughtout the year to camp onsite and share knowledge:

    • Ianto Evans is a landscape architect, applied ecologist, inventor, author and teacher with experience on six continents. He is the author, with Linda Smiley and Michael Smith, of The Hand Sculpted House. Cob is traditional in Wales, his homeland. He shares his knowledge on ecological building and food production and has consulted to USAID, World Bank, Peace Corps and several governments. Ianto has gardened organically for more than 50 years, gradually developing a unique approach to food production, which has been extensively published.
    • Linda Smiley, master cobber, writer, therapist and environmental educator. Her works include intuitive design, sculpting sacred spaces and finishing touches (earthen floors, plasters and cob sculptural details), and cob for kids. She is a co-author of The Hand Sculpted House.
    • Kirk Mobert is a professional builder in California specializing in local materials. He is also an instructor and pyromaniac with SunDog Natural Builders.
    • Max Edleson (many years in Indonesia, Argentina, etc) is a traditional craftsman, masonry stove builder, tool specialist and artist. He and his partner Eva Edleson operate
    • Deanne Bednar, illustrator of [i]The Hand Sculpted House[/i], works with cob, wattle and daub, thatch, strawbale, etc. mostly in the Midwest. She owns and operates The Strawbale Studio in Oxford Michigan.
    • Allie Maggio an owner Natural Builder and complete cob instructor living and teaching in Oregon.
    • Greg Lalish an owner builder and traditional craftsman, woodworker extrodinare.
    • Jo F orsyth, cob builder, artist and natural crafterperson teaching and living in the UK along with other CCC alumni Paul Dillon, The Hollies and more.
    • Betty Seaman, cob builder and veteran teacher, artist and illustrator, lives in one of her five cob house in the beautiful Spirit Pines Sanctuary tucked away in the warm Santa Barbara hills.  An incredible community of people living sustainably off the land, with vast experience in water conservation, creative building with found and local materials, and so much more.
    • Kiko Denzer is an artist, author of several books including Build Your Own Earth Oven, and teacher who has worked with earth and ovens for 15 years.
    • Chip Boggs experienced in homestead construction, permaculture, off-grid living and solar electrics, manages his 360 acres of native rainforest as a preserve and demonstration of eco-forestry.

Contact Us:

If you are interested in our new apprenticeship program with us in 2017, please contact us at your earliest convenience. We can be reached by phone during office hours (Monday/Wednesday/Friday 10am-2pm Pacific time) (541) 396-1825, email at, or by mail: Cob Cottage Company PO Box 942 Coquille, OR 97423