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Week 1: Building a Mud Oven

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As part of their Resilience in the Anthropocene: Natural Building course taught during the Spring of 2020, Beth Bridgeman and Marianthe Bickett ’15 had planned to build a mud oven together with their students. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, they had no choice but to cancel the course. Rather than throwing in the towel and abandoning the project, Beth, Marianthe, and current and former students decided to move the building project to summer.

Day 1:

“Antiochians getting it done. This was the natural building class I was supposed to teach with Marianthe Bickett ‘15 this spring. Some of us are now building the mud oven out at Agraria. Former and current students include: Teddy K Bird ’17, Gabby Loomis-Amrhein ’17, Adam Green ’20, Cazimir Kowalski ’23.”

Agraria is a repurposed farm purchased in 2017, originally funded by the Arthur Morgan Institute for Community Solutions (funded in 1940), and is Ohio’s first center for regenerative practice which is used as a land laboratory, educational center, and environmental stewardship program.

Day 2

Beth reported that they began building out the base and was surprised at the things they found during excavation.

“These are some of the things we dug up yesterday from this 200-year-old farm. Handmade square nails, a piece of an old scythe, a horseshoe, lots of bits of old tin, two crowbars, and lots of chunks of coal from where they must’ve dumped out ashes from a coal stove.”

“Everyone has been so considerate at masking and social distancing. This fall, I am teaching the Antioch Harvest course, Much of which will take place outside on the Antioch farm due to the pandemic. We will need to be doing our cooking on outdoor stoves as much as possible. That class will also be adding a finish layer to the mud oven that sits on the Antioch farm that students built several years ago.”

Day 3: Mixing the first batch of cob


Day 4: Making progress