Transition Culture

An Evolving Exploration into the Head, Heart and Hands of Energy Descent

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I no longer blog on this site. You can now find me, my general blogs, and the work I am doing researching my forthcoming book on imagination, on my new blog.

The Kinsale Earth Pizza Oven (2004)

**Fired With Enthusiasm – the Kinsale Pizza Oven** *(originally published in Permaculture Magazine Issue No. 39 – the oven is still working and still making fantastic pizza, in fact the college has two pizza ovens now!)*

It seems to be all the rage these days for people to write in to PM with their earth oven stories, so, not wishing to be left out, I thought I’d tell the tale of the cob oven we built at Kinsale Further Education Centre (KFEC) as part of the full-time Practical Sustainability/Permaculture course. The idea to build the stove came about, as I imagine most similar projects have, after I had come across a copy of Kiko Denzer’s ‘Build Your Own Earth Oven’. Despite being the course teacher and therefore supposedly knowing how to do these things, I had never actually built an earth oven before, but in the true permaculture spirit of having a go, and believing that the best way to learn something is to teach it, I decided to give it a go.

We had just finished work on the strawbale house in the grounds of the college of KFEC, for which we had utilised some fantastic sandy cay from a building site nearby. One truck load had provided all the plaster for the internal walls of the house and for the undercoat outside. We also had some sand left over from the external lime rendering, and some stone left from some drystone walling we had done. All the ingredients for a cob stove were in place!

To begin with we built a base. This was a circular drystone wall, about 3ft high and 4 feet wide. It was just built drystone, with rubble infill in the middle. On top of this was put a bed of sand onto which we gently placed fire bricks, so that they sat tightly together . Then we built a mound of wet sand in the shape of the inside of the finished stove. This was packed tightly with a board and covered with wet newspaper.

The first mix of cob was just our clay subsoil, with any sizeable stones picked out, mixed on a tarpaulin to a consistency of crunchy peanut butter. This was then built up around the sand in a 3