Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Waitsfield, Vermont offers over 80 hands-on courses per year in design, construction, woodworking, and architectural craft and offers a variety of courses concentrating in sustainable design. Now in its 35th year, Yestermorrow is one of the only design/build schools in the country, teaching both design and construction skills. Our hands-on 1-day to 3-week workshops, certificate programs and semester programs are taught by top architects, builders, and craftspeople from across the country. For people of all ages and experience levels, from novice to professional.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Dan Reicher Lecture Review

Dan Reicher, the director of Energy and Climate Initiatives at Google, spoke last night at Yestermorrow to an "overflow crowd of summer program students, area professionals and interested public," as part of the free summer lecture series. He previewed an array of Google sponsored R&D projects that deal specifically with energy consumption and alternative fuel. For more read these two reviews by Design Cultivation and Light Amber. Watch the lecture online at:

Art in the English Garden

Despite some epic rain (clearly Vermont is not the only place experiencing an extremely wet summer), our student in the Art in the English Garden course with instructor Thea Alvin had a wonderful time and pulled off an amazing project while also visiting some amazing gardens, seeing the local sites, and enjoing tea and scones! Full slideshow to come, but here's a glimpse of the final product...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tonight! Dan Reicher from Google at Yestermorrow

Dan Reicher, Director of Energy and Climate Initiatives at Google, former Assistant Secretary of Energy, and Obama Transition Team member will be at Yestermorrow tonight at 7pm to talk about the current state of play in energy and climate technology, policy and investment. He will discuss Google's increasing focus in the energy world and the critical role of Washington, Wall Street, and Silicon Valley including the massive energy stimulus package.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

John Ringel Lecture 7/15 online

Thoughts on Designing Additions:
From Context to Content and Intention to Invention

Topic Summary:
An “addition” attempts to transform an “existing condition”--with its unique history---into a new configuration for the present owner’s future aspirations. The Design has to account for the existing context with all its foibles, implications and technical challenges. The Design has to articulate the present intentions both stated and implied. The Design becomes an invention—a product of the imagination—that will be a future owners’ existing condition. This lecture will reflect, with examples, on some of the speaker’s experiences “adding on” to numerous residences over the years. It will also show as an example the currently Proposed Yestermorrow Design/Build School Shop Addition.

John Ringel has been a design/builder since 1972 when he co-founded Jersey Devil design/build firm with Steve Badanes. His natural propensities led him to concerns of sun, site, and energy in buildings. He has specialized in energy and sustainable design and has design/built numerous homes, additions, and alterations to existing residences. John has taught at Yestermorrow since 1990.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Forest Management on Campus

Those of you who've visited Yestermorrow's campus know that one of the things we have an abundance of here are trees. Of our 38-acre campus, about 22 acres are in woodland. When Yestermorrow purchased the property in 1990, the hillside had been previously logged, and had grown back in a mixture of pine, hemlock and some mixed hardwoods at the upper parts of the slope. Over the past 10 years we've harvested a handful of trees in our Stump to Sticker classes and milled them up for use in projects around campus. We also harvested nearly 10,000 board feet of pine last year from around the Chalet for use in our Natural Building Intensive class project at Knoll Farm.

This year we've taken a new fresh look at our forest management plan in anticipation of clearing a new cabin site on the north edge of our campus. As a result, we've decided to bring in a local logger to harvest a number of pines which we'll be able to mill and use for upcoming projects. At the same time, we'll clear space for a new 2 room cabin and our new fabric formed concrete structure. It makes sense for us to cut many of the surrounding mature pines at the same time, before they get too big to safely harvest (especially once the new cabins are in the way), and concentrate the inevitable disruption at one time. All in all we'll harvest 40-50 pines and a number of smaller poplars along the northern border of the campus in the next week or so.

While it'll be hard to see these big beautiful trees go when the skidder and chipper are here, we're looking forward to the long term possibilities that will result from the harvest. We will work to transition this mature pine stand into a mixed hardwood forest. The area opened up by the clearing is an ideal location for future food forest development especially in the form of large nut trees and hardwoods like oaks, walnuts, hickories, and chestnuts with some fruit trees along the edge of the meadow. The upcoming forest management activity represents an opportunity to stimulate real action on regenerative land transition on campus and move forward with our larger goals of campus master planning incorporating Permaculture principles.

Yestermorrow is looking for a cob building project

Yestermorrow is looking for a community client for our upcoming Introduction to Cob Building course September 6-12th. Cob is a combination of clay sediment, sand, and straw mixed together with water and hand formed into walls to create an affordable, safe and ecologically sound method of construction. This 6-day Yestermorrow course is looking for a project site in the Mad River Valley where we could build a small structure or create infill walls in an existing structure. Typically cob walls are finished with an earthen plaster after the cob has dried thoroughly. Potential projects could include a small shed, chicken coop, or garden wall which incorporates a door and windows. The community client is responsible for preparing the project site and paying for the cost of building materials, but all student and instructor labor is provided at no charge to the client.

If you know of a potential project for the upcoming Cob Building course, or would like to find out more information, please call José Galarza, Community Outreach Coordinator, at Yestermorrow: 802-496-5545 or by email at

Thursday, July 23, 2009

New video! Lecture by Jacob Deva Racusin

Check out the 7/8 summer lecture by Jacob Deva Racusin on Bridging the Gap: Bringing Together the Worlds of Natural and Green Building at He discusses how the modern natural building movement has been growing slowly but steadily for decades across the globe, yet much misunderstanding still remains about its form, function, purpose, and potential. The growth of the green building movement has helped increase awareness of energy efficiency, building performance, and ecological sensitivity. Developments in natural building and design in our cold climate are addressing these concerns, while continuing to support core issues of social and ecological justice and affordability. Come find out how the natural and green building movements can - and must - learn from and work with each other to reach mutual goals.

Jacob Deva Racusin is co-owner of New Frameworks Natural Building, a Vermont-based contracting and consulting business specializing in the integration of natural materials, holistic design principles, and intentional process to create high performance structures of beauty. Jacob has been creating functional art with wood, stone, straw, earth, and other found materials since 2000, when he began design and construction on a solar-oriented straw bale house in Montgomery, Vermont, in which he lives with his family. He has led Yestermorrow's Natural Building Intensive program in 2008 and 2009.

Stay tuned to for each week's public lectures, or join us in person at the School at 7pm on Wednesdays through the end of August. For a full schedule of the Summer Lecture Series, please visit

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A few summer shots

We've posted a few new photo albums on our Picasa site from summer classes and just neat happenings around campus- check it out!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Summer Lecture Series video online

We're thrilled to have our summer lecture series video online now thanks to volunteer Cornelius Murphy! We'll be posting the presentations weekly on the new channel at Check it out! You can also subscribe via RSS feed or iTunes to get notification of new videos as they're posted.

Click here for the first lecture from 6/24 with Jeff Parsons and Jared W. Poor from Beeken Parsons furnituremaking studio in Shelburne, VT on "What Were We Thinking? Reflections on how Place, Personality and Process Influence Furniture Design at Beeken Parsons"