The First Straw: Building the First Straw Bale Home in Virginia

Hanuman Bertschy trod where no Virginian had gone before when she built a straw bale home on an ashram just outside of Charlottesville.

Designed so that the southern sun beams all the way across the main room at Winter Solstice, Hanuman’s house is a natural passive solar collector. Locally made bricks absorb the radiant heat by day and release it back into the room at night. The interior walls are plastered with a mixture of clay from Hanuman’s yard (the Charlottesville area is said to have the best clay for adobe in the country), lime, and sand; the adobe gives
Photo By Philip Beaurline