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Education is at the core of what we do because we feel an informed community is an active and engaged community. In our experience, people learn best by getting their hands in the mix, and so we provide experiential learning workshops that blend informal lectures, group discussion, visual aids, and active participation in the creation of an on-site project or activity.
Click here for our calendar of upcoming workshops or click below to see more about what types of workshops we offer. If you would like to host a workshop, or provide guest instruction, please
What better way to support a local and sustainable food system then to work towards educating the future producers, participants, and change makers in our food system –you! With a commitment to improving ecological literacy in our community we provide low or no cost workshops thoughtfully designed for K-12 classrooms, business and trades people, and the general public.
Together we explore a range of curriculum and challenges from basic to advance topics on ecological gardening, a holistic approach to designing and caring for small and large spaces that focuses on the interdependent relationships of plants, animals, the land and natural cycles and processes.
Some topics included are:
Permaculture – Ethics and Principles
Food Forest Gardening
Perennial Polyculture and Plant Communities
Seed Saving and Propagation
Water Wise Irrigation
Resource Management and Conservation
Increasing Natural Habitat
Natural Pest Control
Do you know how to culture yogurt, make a batch of sourdough starter, can peaches, or identify 10 different herbs from sprigs laid out on a table before you? If not, perhaps you’d like to attend one of our Urban Homesteading workshops. With real life experience, practical advice, and energetic enthusiasm, we’ll share with you the joys and surprises of living off the grid and in the middle of the urban jungle.
We host regular urban homesteading workshops at our Bakers Alley events and also specialty workshops for your group’s particular interests.
Did you know you can have 4 hens laying ‘city fresh’ eggs in a 5’ by 8’ combined coop and chicken run, foraging cover crops and food scraps from your garden, providing you with rich nutrients to feed your fruit trees which provide nutritious juice, dried snacks, and canned preserves for the off season, while cooking bread in a solar oven with bike power milled flour and wild foraged seeds and grains, topped with homemade cheese or honey from your backyard hives?
It’s all possible in San Francisco – we do it – and you can too – and we’ll show you how!
Some workshop topics include:
Making all natural, vegetable based soaps for all your needs
Pruning and grafting fruit trees for increased yield in small spaces
Fermenting fruits and vegetables for health and long term preservation
Culturing milk into cheese, yogurt, kefir and more
Wild foraging of herbs, fruits, nuts, and mushrooms
Brewing beer and making wine
Raising Chickens and Ducks
Appropriate Technology – Solar Ovens, Rocket Stoves, and Compost Toilets
Greywater systems and creative ‘waste’ stream management
Natural Building is a term often used to describe a more resource efficient, ecologically sound form of construction, but it is also defined not just by the technique and materials used but also by a set of ethics and a broader movement emphasizing a deeper connection to the earth as a living system into which we must integrate our built environment. With a strong foundation built by some of the region’s preeminent natural builders, ECOSF has cultivated a deep love and respect for this technique of building and the underlying ethics of sustainable development, and of course the inspiration to share what we’ve learned with others.
Our workshops cover the range of traditional and contemporary earth and fiber-based techniques (e.g. adobe, cob, rammed earth, slip-straw, and straw bale), timber framing, stone masonry and various other indigenous forms. We also utilize locally sourced, reused, recycled, and less energy intensive materials whenever possible. We bring this time-tested building art, still used widely around the world, to k-12 schools, business and trades people, and the general public through low-to-no cost workshops covering topics including:
Cob building basics for benches, ovens and small structures
Earth oven construction and use covering thermal mass, insulation and firing
Woven wood fences, structures, and sculpture
Natural Plasters and finish coats using safe, clean, non-toxic materials
Woodworking and carpentry focusing on reused, recycled and sustainable wood
Building with stone, Brick and urbanite without the use of energy intensive, cement based mortars
Simple structure design/build covering passive solar design, foundations, wall systems, framing, living roof, and natural plasters
Winter Ecology Walk in Glen Canyon
We're happy to announce our first of it's kind Ecology Walk through Glen Canyon Natural Area. Many of you have asked us to offer a "wild food" walk and workshop so we've done just that, plus added some other features including discussions on herbal medicine, bird identification, geologic history of the canyon as well as when, where, and how to gather native and exotic species for your home pantry and medicine cabinet without depleting the bounty for all the other species we share this wondeful space with. Please note - it is illegal to gather plants or animals from San Francisco Parks or Natural Areas* - this walk is an educational discussion, but we will have foods to sample that have been collected from other places.
Learn about foods like soap root, wild fennel, and pine needle tea, medicines from Berberis, Artemisia, and common blackberry, as well as identify Red-Tailed hawks, White Crowned Sparrows, and Bombus occidentalis. If that wasn't enough we'll talk about the radiolaria - zooplankton that dominated the oceans 100 million years ago - that have oozed into the rock formations of Glen Canyon created the iconic, subduction folded Franciscan chert. This workshop will be the first of four this year, each one happening in each season on the 3rd Sunday of the month.
Workshop Details: When: Sunday, February 17th - 10am-1pm Where: We'll meet at the School Farm (click for map) and walk from there Cost: $25 - Free for folks 18 and under
Space is limited so please RSVP at
- or email us for more information.
Look forward to seeing you on the trail!
Earth Oven Building at the School Farm Outdoor Kitchen
Come on down to learn everything you need to know to build you own earth oven for your backyard or community space. We'll go over design elements, thermal mass and insulation, sourcing materials, and more. For this workshop, we'll be rebuilding the earth oven at the School Farm just in time for our first Bakers Alley of the year the following week. More details to come - if you have questions, please email us at
Workshop Details: When: Saturday, March 23rd - 10am-4pm Where: The School Farm (click for map) at the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts Cost: $45 - Free for folks 18 and under
Space is limited so please RSVP at
- or email us for more information.
ECOSF's Natural Building Workshop Series 2012
Since the beginning of human settlements people have been using materials from their environment, like earth, stone, wood, and other fibers to build homes, temples, granaries and other useful structures. ECOSF is proud to share this tradition, still practiced widely around the world, of using safe, natural, re-usable materials in our work building ovens, benches, small structures, sculptures and more!
This monthly workshop series will be a thorough hands-on course in natural building including:
* Materials and techniques (cob, slip straw, clay wattle, plasters, and basic woodworking) * Advantages and disadvantages compared with conventional, mass produced building practices * Historical context and global perspective * Simple structures like ovens, benches, sheds, stoves, chicken coops, sculptures and more.
Feb 18th 10-4pm
Part 1: Intro to Natural Building
This intro session will provide a strong theoretical and practical foundation in natural building. The workshop will blend discussions on materials, techniques, and historical context, with hands-on practice building a mini house using several basic earth building techniques cob, rammed earth, slip-straw, wattle and daub, and adobe bricks.
March 17th 10-4pm Part 2: Small structures: Foundations, Framing, Woodworking and Walls
This session will move from mini-house to full size (shed size) structures as we begin work on a new greenhouse and tool shed. Topics will include foundation basics (rubble trench drainage, pouring concrete piers, and wooden crib), basic framing and woodworking (preparing and setting round pole posts, simple timber framing, and stud wall construction) and straw bale wall systems with earthen plaster coating.
April 22nd 10-4pm
Part 3: Free Earth Day Natural Building community Event
Come on out to the School Farm for a fun day filled with natural building activities, good food, good people and good times. We’ll be mixing up some cob and working on our awesome new garden walls and of course firing up the earth oven for delicious and wholesome pizzas, breads, roasted veggies and more! Also featuring appropriate technology demos like solar ovens, pedal power and solar powered entertainment will also be in full effect. It’s a potluck so bring something nutritious and delicious to share.
May 19th 10-4pm Part 4: Sculpting and Artistic Creations
This session taps into our creative expression to use the incredible qualities of earth to make sculptures and relief work adorned with mosaics. Topics will include capillary break, armature and skeletal frame, blending and applying earthen sculpting mix, detail work, and mosaic decoration.
June 16th 10-4pm Part 5: Earthen Plasters and Natural Finishes
Good hat, good boots and good what…? Jacket! This session shows how to protect your project with a beautiful, durable, natural finish. This workshop will include preparing materials and mixing earthen finish Plaster, lime plasters, applying natural water resistant finishes and coatings, and mixing and applying Alis, or clay paint.
Workshop Cost: $45/person ( $35/person if signed up for two sessions, youth under 18 are free!)
ECOSF is committed to providing access to our workshops, youth are free, and a limited number of scholarships are available. All proceeds from workshops go directly to supporting our work in choolsand the community.
Light refreshments will be provided, bring a lunch and something to share if you'd like.
Space is limited, please RSVP to
or call (415) 565-9576.
Check out this video on ECOSF Natural Building Workshops produced by local filmmaker Janel Sterbentz.