Building Skills Workshop

The next building skills workshop will be held in 2019 - Stay Tuned!

Since 1986 Turtle Island has led countless learners in the construction of buildings and structures from pic nic shelters, barns, animal enclosures, primitive human dwellings, outdoor kitchens, out-buildings and more. We source natural materials right from our surroundings like strawbale, cobb and local timber. We also reclaim, reuse and repurpose materials from pre-existing buildings. As they say... One man's trash is another man's treasure... Our passion is to share the empowerment of creating what you need from the materials at hand. Come learn with us!


Nick spreading mud over strawbalesOur natural building classes guide beginners in taking local, natural materials: in this case - sticky dirt and sand - to make a plaster while working together in a communal project of finishing the outer walls of an existing strawbale cottage.


“Hands-on and How-to by doing it” best describes the way we will spend our time together discovering earthen building styles, techniques, ethics and philosophical beliefs.



Liam leading a mix crewWe will concentrate not only on learning how to forage for materials, evaluate them, mix them and use them for plastering walls, but also in making and using a cob infill mixture to chink between the logs on an uber-authentic hand-carved log cabin. We will also experiment with cob construction on other sites on campus. This workshop shares information and skills on how to build simply from local sustainable materials.


We at Turtle Island have always valued and fought for the freedom to empower people with abilities and understanding to build by “earth-first” techniques. We even generated the NC House Bill 774This bill was unanimously voted on and signed into law in 2013 – verifying that we can use the human right to build and experiment with alternative techniques and materials.


 Our Natural Building instructors have partnered with Turtle Island for the annual  “Families Learning Together” outdoor expo to demonstrate plastering the outer walls of our strawbale house – and then will lead an earthen-building workshop.

Hot meals cooked over fire and housing for workshop participants is available in multiple onsite structures of hand-made locally sourced materials on the gorgeous campus of Turtle Island base camp. A reduced (all-inclusive) tuition is offered at $450 for an individual or $650 per couple. 



Date/Time: TBD in 2019

Available Spaces: limited to 12 adults (no unchaperoned minors)

Cost: $450 p/person or $650 p/couple (hot meals & rustic lodging included)

Cancellations: non-refundable deposit (1/2 of total) is retained for all cancellations

Road Conditions: 1.5 miles off-road gravel - watch the video(link is external)

Location: 8 miles east of Boone, NC - Base camp at Turtle Island Preserve is just 2 miles off the Blue Ridge Parkway - Bamboo Gap Exit


How To Register:

Option 1: Pay online w/ credit card using the 'Buy Now' button below - and email these forms to: sends e-mail)




Option 2: Pay w/ check or money order by Postal Mail - print and enclose these forms to:

Turtle Island Preserve

Attn. Natural BuildingRogers Cabin - open air wood floor overnight shelter

2683 Little Laurel Road

Boone, NC 28607



After You've Registered:

Driving Directions

What to Bring on overnight stays

CRUCIAL Orientation Info


ATTENTION ALL VISITORS: Read Before Entering - Be aware that Turtle Island Preserve is NOT LIABLE for your safety, health or any impairment of it. Enter at your own risk. Your presence represents your acknowledgement that you accept full liability for any damage to you/your children’s person or property. This applies to everyone on the premises or associated with Turtle Island Preserve programs.

WARNING:Under North Carolina law, a farm animal activity sponsor or farm animal professional is not liable for an injury to or the death of a participant in farm animal activities resulting exclusively from the inherent risks of farm animal activities. Chapter 99E of The North Carolina General Statutes.

WARNING: Under North Carolina Law, There Is No Liability For An Injury To Or Death Of A Participant In An Agritourism Activity Conducted At This Agritourism Location If Such Injury Or Death Results From The Inherent Risks Of The Agritourism Activity. Inherent Risks Of Agritourism Activities Include, Among Others, Risks Of Injury Inherent To Land, Equipment, And Animals, As Well As The Potential For You To Act In A Negligent Manner That May Contribute To Your Injury Or Death. You Are Assuming The Risk Of Participating In This Agritourism Activity.