If you’ve tasted pizza, bread or stew from an authentic wood-fired oven, you know why COB ovens are so popular. Nothing beats the flavor! And what’s more satisfying than cooking in an energy-efficient oven you built from natural, local materials with your own hands… and feet? But North Florida’s interest in this ancient building technique isn’t limited to the senses. The passion burns far deeper!
Local COB Workshops Attract Renewed Interest
Alex Ojeda, organizer of Jacksonville’s Permaculture Network, sees growing interest in COB workshops he teaches throughout North Florida. “People are looking for more wholesome ways to enjoy life, be fulfilled, artistic and self-reliant,” says Alex. “So, we find some clay and sand in nature, stomp on it with a bunch of friends and create an oven that can be heated with a small amount of wood. Then everyone brings pies, breads, pizzas and nachos to bake. We’ve turned a small amount of wood into a large amount of productivity and had fun. That’s the biggest attraction.” Alex says COB attracts some distinct groups of people:
- Greenies and Naturalists like the sustainability and low environmental impact of cooking without using petroleum products. COB uses less energy and the food tastes better.
- Gardeners like cooking their food as naturally as it was grown. A COB oven is the perfect compliment, both aesthetically and functionally to a Permaculture garden.
- Foodies and Artisans like getting creative with food and enjoy the unique cooking experience.
- Preppers like knowing they can grow and cook food when modern conveniences become unavailable during a disaster.
“Eat Your Yard” owner Tim Armstrong recently invited Architect/Natural Builder April Magill to teach a two-day COB workshop at his organic farm. Tim says, “I attended a COB workshop at Brunswick’s Hostel in the Forest. Once I experienced their cool outdoor kitchen and April’s books on building with local materials, I knew I had to get her here to share her craft. Now I’m building a cob rocket stove heater for my aquaculture operation, planning a cob fireplace for my learning center/office and a Lorena stove for more efficient cooking.”
Why Locals Are Fired Up About COB
Kristina. “Raising a child makes me realize the importance of conserving energy and respecting the environment. I want Lena to grow up learning practical tools for sustainable living. I like putting my energy into something that gives back without wasting resources. Plus, I’m a big foodie and can’t wait to eat from my own COB oven!”
John. I’m interested in health, organics, Permaculture, being self-sufficient and going back to our roots. I like knowing where my food comes from and growing it myself. I’m concerned about GMOs and food additives. I had a
great time mixing COB and building an oven. There’s a lot of pride and satisfaction in building something myself.
Shea & Daniel. We want to eventually live off-grid. We like the thermal efficiency and sustainability of COB and plan to build a COB house. We know there are some drawbacks, like erosion, that we need to consider. But every home needs ongoing maintenance, so we’re not concerned. And this is something we can do together and with others – something that builds community.
Michelle. I’ve been gardening, baking and canning for for years. My husband and I bought a house with a half acre backyard.. In the middle there’s a brick BBQ. Now that we’re learning to build in COB, we’re going to use that as
the base for a COB oven. I’m an artist and am excited to see what creations we can create.
Kelly. I have a piece of property I’m developing efficiently and sustainably. I’ll be incorporating Permaculture. I’m at the workshop to get some experience with COB so I can build with natural materials on my property.
Carolina. I’m building my own organic farm on some family property. I eventually would like to build a COB house to live more sustainably.
Local COB Resources
If you’d like to attend a local workshop or learn more about COB projects in our area, follow these links.