Building ZigBone Farm Retreat Center
Sustainable Building Materials
The three ZigBone Retreat buildings were built with straw bale insulation and hand covered with clay from our farm's soil and lime plaster hydrated on the farm. We also used old beams, wood siding, and brick salvaged from a nearby barn, and restored vintage furniture to fill our many rooms.
The B&D Woodworks crew and Piney Ridge Timber Framers -- hailing from the Catoctin area -- have hung in there for years, through sweltering heat, frigid cold, our nutty new ideas, and all manner of setbacks that come with a large-scale renovation. They arrived expert craftsmen and left artists, having contributed not only the timber framing and carpentry but many of the aesthetic details that make ZigBone the extraordinary place it is.
Natural Building Workshops
Many hands (and feet) built ZigBone Farm Retreat. Our architect and creative engine Sigi Koko led or co-led eight natural building workshops over three years on everything from building with straw bales to mixing and applying natural plasters. Hundreds of people from all over the country spent weekends learning to "stitch" and stack straw bale walls; mix clay, straw, and sand for plasters; and build our frog clay oven. These intrepid souls, who never hesitated to put their hands into a bucket of freezing clay when the weather didn't cooperate, got us through the long renovation; we consider them part of the ZigBone family.
Seven geothermal wells, super insulated walls, high-efficiency HVAC, and a large solar array -- yup, we are conserving energy at ZigBone. And that doesn't even include our state-of-the-art, uber-Bay-friendly septic system.