This story appeared in the 2020-2021 winter issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener in response to the theme, “The Fair.”
My wife and I built a straw bale home in 2007, and we met our builder at the Fair in the Energy and Shelter Area. That was a really great experience. We developed a design/build relationship with the builder and his team. The Fair provided a great opportunity for us to connect – we would have likely not met the builder and moved forward with the project if we hadn’t had that experience at the Fair. One of the great things about meeting our builder at the Fair was that in future years, once we built the house and moved closer to Unity, we would come back to the Fair and go to the builder’s booth and see pictures of our house displayed as a project that they’d worked on. It’s just a great example of meeting somebody at the Fair, seeding an idea, thinking it through and then having an opportunity to follow it through. I can say with firsthand experience that straw bale houses are amazing because of their utilization of thermal mass. Their thick walls, which use an agricultural byproduct for insulation, really help to keep energy costs down.