Natural Builder, Permaculturist, Mud Dauber, Living Roofs, Raising pastured livestock
Pro Planet People: Who are you and what do you do, where do you do it, how do you do it?
Greg: My name is Greg Allen, and I live in a town called Snow Camp, in central North Carolina. I founded a natural building business in 2009, called Mud Dauber Natural Building; I build houses for clients out of clay, straw, timbers, and stone, and also teach educational hands-on workshops for people who want to learn the craft and build their own house!
PPP: What would you would like people to know about in terms of sustainability, permaculture, water management, energy, natural building and more?
Greg: Most conventional construction ideology ignores how each building interacts with the ecology and landscape that it will be constructed within (unfortunately). On the other hand, a key tenet of natural building is that a house should harmonize with the landscape, have a minimal impact on existing ecology, and make use of materials that are healthy for the people and animals that will interact with them. I try to build small houses, minimize tree-cutting (and use the lumber from any trees that do get cut), avoid all toxic/plastic materials if possible, utilize super-local materials that come from the property or support real people (like buying strawbales from local farmers), and dramatically minimize waste.
We find all kinds of creatures on our jobsites (toads in the sand mound, snakes on the pathway, birds in the soffits, insects everywhere), and we appreciate them and try to be mindful of not hurting anything.
PPP: What is your favorite project that you want to share that you had a hand in?
Greg: I am currently involved in building an octagonal, strawbale writing studio for a local author. It has a living roof with plants on it, roundwood posts and beams harvested from the property, a sealed earthen floor, salvaged doors and windows, strawbale walls, and natural plasters inside and out. All of the clay used was dug up during the initial excavation, and we have soaked it and processed it in trash cans. I’m only halfway through the project, but I can already tell that it is my favorite thus far.
PPP: What is your philosophy on life with reference to the interconnectedness of nature, humans and the creatures?
Greg: I believe that what is good for the earth is intrinsically good for humans. I’m proud to think of myself as part of nature, and I hope that humans can find the inspiration to make big changes towards harmony with the Earth.
PPP: The Future! Can you paint a picture of the future if we all worked together?
Greg: The world I imagine being happy and is beautiful and healthful. I imagine a culture in which people feel empowered to build and fix and grow things themselves. Specialization fades away to some degree, and humans will enjoy the benefits of having a variety of skillsets and interests. People will be in touch with eating mostly what they can grow in their own yard or village. Homesteading will continue to rise in popularity, and people will connect with the land they live on. Plastic, chemicals, and disposable products will slowly be eliminated and replaced with objects that are beautiful, well-made, able to be fixed, and made of real materials. Public transportation and biking routes will be improved, and personal vehicles will be less essential.
I think if our culture as a whole could find a way to slow down and allow for reflection (I’m not sure how to manifest this), people might have a chance at choosing to reject the harmful parts of our lives, and embrace the things that we need on a deep level.
PPP: Give some advice for people on how to get started, why you got started, reflect on how your personal experiences got you where you are today.
Greg: I really enjoyed my college experience, studying Industrial Design (similar to product design). I loved the people, the hands-on modeling, the sketching, and the brainstorming. But after interning at a small family farm for a summer (something I hadn’t been exposed to, growing up in the suburbs), I realized that no matter how much I loved Industrial Design, it was even more important to me to spend most of my working life outdoors.
I listened to my gut feeling, which was to pursue something that combined my love of design thinking, my love of art, and my strong desire to be outdoors. I was also really enamored by a pottery class I was taking at the time. Putting it all together, I decided to hop on my bicycle the week after college graduation and head out to Oregon, to learn about building with cob (mud) at the Cob Cottage Company.
I encourage everyone to listen to their gut, and if you are in a position to take on an adventure that you are passionate about, do it.
PPP: Tell us about people worldwide that have inspired you.
Greg: One person I’ve been inspired greatly by is Ianto Evans. Ianto started the school of natural building that I apprenticed at in 2008, called the Cob Cottage Company. I attended the program with an interest in learning how to build with mud, and left with completely new ideas regarding how to live my life. I admire Ianto’s discipline, and unwillingness to compromise when it comes to considering the natural world. He studies nature in order to make decisions about his own projects. He creates almost zero waste. He cares for all creatures, and uses all five senses when taking walks in the woods. If you are interested in natural building, I recommend checking out Ianto’s book “The Hand-Sculpted House.”
PPP: Thank you!
Greg Allen Bio:
Greg Allen has been practicing natural building, sustainable alternatives and regenerative practices for over 14 years.
His skills are mainly in: Natural building, gardening, raising pastured livestock, using other people’s waste and general permaculture methods and ideas.
Greg instructs and leads natural building workshops at his homestead and around the local area, teaching people how to build natural homes from foundation through roof. Greg’s building “school” (an informal school, as it is all hands-on instruction outside, on various building sites in the woods) is called the Mud Dauber School of Natural Building.
Check out his website at www.muddauberbuilding.com, and we are also on Facebook and Instagram under “Mud Dauber School.”
Natural Builder, Mud Dauber, Living Roofs, Raising pastured livestock, Permaculture Pratictioner
Snow Camp, NC, USA
Check out his Pro Planet People Profile