Earth Bag Construction is: (sometimes called sandbags) is both old and new. Sandbags have long been used, particularly by the military, for creating strong, protective barriers, or for flood control. The same reasons that make them useful for these applications carry over to creating housing. Since the walls are so substantial, they resist all kinds of severe weather (or even bullets) and also stand up to natural calamities such as earthquakes and floods. They can be erected simply and quickly with readily available components, for very little money. Taken from

We have decided to try our hand a this in Los Frios.  One major factor in building anything in Los Frios is material transport.  For example, a flat bed truck can only carry a half load of block and cement up the mountain.  Our ideas is to build a model while training a local mason/carpenter, Antonio De La Rosa, so that he may continue building earth bag houses when I am not present.  This first house will serve many functions.  First: it will be constructed by the two Ecotourism Mountain Guide Groups, then they will have full access to the house to hold meetings, store donated camping equipment, and host eco-tourists.  Second: if the house is unoccupied, I might stay in the house when I am in Los Frios. Third function the house will serve as an open model to any one who might want to construct using these methods. Fourth possible function: if Young Tree Community has an employee or short term mission in Los Frios they could stay there.

Some steps involved in construction:

1) Cut the road to the house construction site:


55 people volunteered a day of work for the road cut.  Nobody complained once. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.  I was willing to pay people for the work day, but a dear friend of mine offered a day for free and said he would be happy to motivate a few more people.  After my 2 years of Peace Corps service to Los Frios many people feel they owe me a favor.  It was humbling to watch them work so hard.  Furthermore, it also showed the community how much work can be done in a few short intense hours (the road was done by 3pm!).

2) Dig the trench for the foundation.


Antonio De La Rosa is the mason/carpenter who is being trained in Earth Bag Construction. A wonderful man and one of the most diligent workers I know.


The view from the main road.

That wasn’t easy. It may take up to a year to finish the house, but thanks to some donations we have most of the materials purchased and the foundation poured.

We aren’t the first to use sandbag construction. See these links for more information on Earth Bag construction and how its done.




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