‘Working with straw is unlike working with any other building material. It is simple, flexible, imprecise, and organic.’ Barbara Jones, Straw Bale Futures
With more and more people coming to help and learn at the farm we needed a small indoor space to deliver workshops and training. We are always trying to find ways to reduce the environmental impact of the projects at the farm and ultimately be an environmental improvement centre. Therefore we carefully considered how to construct this building with our green ethos.
Straw is a waste product from the intensive agricultural industry. Four million tonnes of straw are produced surplus to requirements each year. By using this waste product avoided using the many damaging construction materials that are available. It is estimated that over 50% of greenhouse are produced by the construction industry and the transport associated with it. Our straw bales are from a specialist farm in Hertfordshire, which meant they travelled only 37 straw miles!
The whole building design incorporated reused, recycled and renewable materials within the foundations, the roof and the floor; including reclaimed timber from the Norfolk sea defences, sheep’s wool from our sheep, earth from the site,and clay from the pottery.
Many modern building materials contain chemicals such as formaldehyde, which are highly toxic. Straw is natural and breathable keeping the air fresh and circulated inside the building. Also straw bales keep you warm. The 450mm thick bales are super insulators and are typically two or three times better than the building regulation standard.
Our waste balers and plastic compactors were built entirely by staff and volunteers at the farm, thanks to funding from BIFFA. Straw, cardboard and plastic is all baled right here on the farm.