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posted July 01, 2013

Cob maintenance

Good news! Park program staff are allowed to repair the cob cafe structure after all. (At first they were told they couldn't.) See the photo gallery.


posted June 12, 2009

Bulletins 2009

From the June 2009 newsletter

Next on the cob maintenance list is rebuilding the wall where the fireplace was, and re-plastering the cob benches where the plaster has given way. Heidrun is the main experimenter, trying out new recipes for earth-based plaster that work in a cold climate. This year she plans to try adding 8% cement powder, to see what happens. She and Jenny will be holding workshops to rebuild the cob wall, in July. To take part and learn how to cob, talk to the summer park staff or contact

From the May 2009 newsletter

Cob courtyard: Everything requires maintenance, which can sometimes include renovation. The cob fireplace, part of the courtyard wall by the playground, never worked well. So it’s time to take it down and bridge the space. The removal has begun and Jenny Cook will be filling in the gap beginning the first weekend of June. If you want to “get muddy” and learn how it’s done, contact the park staff at or leave a message on the rink house phone: 416 392-0913.


Cob master-builder Georgie Donais and her family have taken on a year of being the “family-in-residence” at Kimbercote Farm, near Collingwood. From the Kimbercote website, “For thirty years, Kimbercote has been working with social and environmental groups, the labour movement, educators, families, grass-roots organizations and the non-profit sector. Our organizational roots date even further back to 1959, making us one of the oldest active social justice organizations in the province.” The century-old renovated farmhouse provides meeting and accommodation space for up to 125 people, and Georgie says one of their interests is increasing rural-urban links. A timely idea! Hopefully Georgie and her family will make a bridge between Dufferin Grove and Kimbercote, initially through some reports back to this newsletter.


Bulletins 2008

posted May 18, 2008

We are transforming the bio-toilet site into earthen bench seating and a conversation area.

We are almost done the cobbing. Tomorrow, Victoria day, 12-4 we will finish shaping the bench.

The next task is cover the big bench with Earthen Plaster.

Please come by, help and learn by doing the whole process: mixing, applying and burnishing.

  • Wednesday May 21 3 - 7
  • Thursday May 22 3 - 7 only interrupted by grocery shopping at the Farmer's market

posted May 22, 2008

We finished the scratch layer now will plaster the second and last layer giving the bench it final look.

  • Friday May 23 1 - 5
  • Saturday I am taking off
  • But Sunday May 25 12 - 4
  • Monday May 26 12 - 4
  • And Tuesday May 27 3 - 7

Nick and Heidrun are cobbing

posted June 04, 2008

Yes, we are almost done,we only need some sunny and warm days to let the cob and plaster completely dry. Then we will cover the new bench with linseed oil for rain protection.


posted July 07, 2008

Yes we are done.

posted May 02, 2008

What's Happening

Fundraising continues in an effort to fund the next phase of the bio-toilet. In the meantime, we will be temporarily transforming the bio-toilet site into earthen bench seating and a conversation area.

This area will be one of the locations of the Dufferin Grove speaker series (see the newsletters for topics and dates).

We will be starting the transforming process May 11 daily 12 - 4pm until we are finished.

If you would like to come cob with us, just drop on by, or e-mail:



posted on August 04, 2007

Two Story Cob Home Being Built in Victoria BC

A dream home made of mud

Published: AUGUST 3, 2007

-- Ann and Gord Baird's dream house has in-floor heating, solar and wind power to run appliances, a plug-in for an electric car and a wall of windows to capture the sun's heat from the south.

It's all very contemporary - except the house is made of mud.

Ann, a former financial manager, and Gord, an auto body shop owner, both quit their jobs to construct their 2,150-square-foot home of cob, a centuries-old construction technique using dirt, clay and straw.

They started building this spring on their 7.5-acre property near Victoria and hope to move into the house with four other family members by this October.


posted on July 08, 2007

Local Temple built with stone - without steel

From The Star, an interesting example of a structure whose walls are so thick and strong that it can stand up without a steel frame, and it's built with the help of many volunteers:

Serenity that's set in stone

Published: July 07, 2007

Highway 427 and Finch: Amid a dismal landscape, a marvel of architecture is rising

Highway 427 and Finch: Amid a dismal landscape, a marvel of architecture is rising , More than 24,000 pieces of Hindu temple were sculpted in India, then assembled here.




posted December 9, 2005

Dufferin Park Cob T-Shirts Available!

Cob T-Shirts are available as momentos of the summer of building fun, and testaments to the community treat.

To order a shirt, fill in the order form (which also has price and size details), or email Michelle at

posted October 24, 2005

Save the Salsbury Drive Cob Garden

From some cobber friends in Vancouver:

Dear Cobbers and Salsbury Garden supporters,

The Friends of Salsbury Garden have been working hard to try and save this very special garden with the cob house. Hundreds of community residents love and care deeply about protecting this place and have voiced their commitment to helping save it. 1,600 people signed our petition that we submitted to the City. 26 community organizations, including all three levels of government, have written letters and support preserving this green space and the possible development of children's learning programing in the garden.

Despite the City's offers to the developer (including land value, expenses to date, and additional gravy), the developer, Niebuhr Construction, has refused to sell, claiming that the offer is not high enough. But why not listen to the community and accept the City offer. The developer, Richard Niebuhr would lose nothing (except potential profits) and would gain the enormous respect of both the community and the City. We continue to hope that Richard Niebuhr will reconsider and be moved to sell. Meanwhile, we will continue to explore win-win options that respect the developer's right to fair compensation.

The developer is now, unecessarily demanding that the cob house be removed.

We are asking for your help now by respectfully calling or sending e-mails to Richard Niebuhr, at the contact info below. Let him know how much you care about the garden and cob structure, why you care about the garden, and that you/we will continue to work hard to save it. There are hundreds of you out there and if we all send Richard Niehbuhr a short message, it will remind him just how much the community cares about this garden.

Richard Niebuhr

Links: Save the Cob Garden | Update

Salsbury cob garden, Vancouver

posted October 6, 2005

Big we're-finished-the-wall party Friday Sept 23

Hundreds of people came to the we're-finished-the-wall party! We relocated the regularly scheduled Friday night supper on September 23 from by the ovens to down by the cob wall, which was festooned with lights for the occasion. There was music, speeches, and of course, food! You are all invited to come and celebrate!

posted August 23, 2005

Mosaics are starting

Hi Everyone;

The final cobbing is being finished up and the scratch coat of plaster is beginning. We will be applying tile and glass mosaics to the next coat of plaster (the final coat).

There will be a trial on tuesday (August 23) to test the technique. I am planning on being in the park around 11am.

I would like to invite everyone to join in mosaicing starting on Saturday (August 27). Please note that the edges of broken tiles are sharp.

We are still soliciting materials e.g. ceramics, plates, glass, other interesting things that can be stuck into plaster (kid's toy cars, keys, etc).


posted August 7, 2005

Mosaics work progressing; truck needed to pick up glass donation

Hi Everyone;

Just to update you...

We met last monday night and discussed image design while we played with some clay. The clay is in the green box marked #2 if anyone wants to make a shape/tile/object out of clay. Of of the volunteers will be firing the clay objects in her kiln so we can incorporate it into the design. Please note that this is special 'high fire' clay and do not mix other clay in with it.

We talked about donations of tiles, glass, and found objects. We will need to be careful to make sure all tile pieces used in the mosaic are winter-proof. Specifically we need 'outdoor tile', also known as 'fully vitrified' or marked as not absorbing more than 0.05 % water. Otherwise the tile will absorb water and then when it freezes in the winter the glazing (coloured part) will break off leaving a sharp colourless edge. A possible outcome may be that we will need to focus on glass donations. At least 2 boxes of tiles that have already been donated indicate that they are outdoor-appropriate.

I would like to remind everyone that we are still looking for a truck to pick up a large donation from the Jane-Finch area.

There is no meeting scheduled for this week, however, it is still possible to make clay creations. (I won't be able to be there this monday night). I will get the clay prepared so that it is ready to use. Next scheduled meeting is August 15 (monday) at 7:30.

- Deb Walks.

posted August 7, 2005

Pictures to inspire

I took a couple of pictures at the park today to assist in thinking about the designs.

A child at the park who was working on the mosaic suggested the design could reflect the playground and wading pool. He also thinks it would be nice to include an image of children working on the cob structure as part of the mosaic. Very cool.

- Deb Walks.

See the pictures >>

posted July 27, 2005



This is a final call for bottles for making bottle windows in our cob courtyard wall. I am looking for:

  • wine and other drink bottles of colours such as blue, orange, purple, yellow & green
  • bottles of interesting shapes such as square, oblong, curved
  • clear mason and other wide-mouthed jars to act as the other side of the window

If you have any of these that you want to donate, please speak now, so that we can get them from you by the end of this week. Drop offs are welcome; just take them to the green box attached to the shed by the pool, south end of the park.

Thank you for your help!


posted July 22, 2005


Two things:

1) This is a reminder to all those who wanted to donate materials to Cob in the Park that it's still not too late. We need:

  • coloured bottles with flat bottoms (blues, greens, amber, purple)
  • clear jars, mason jars
  • china and tile for mosaics
  • five gallon pails
  • cedar shakes
  • a few pieces of seasoned firewood (18" long, for embedding in the wall)

2) Meeting for all those interested in mosaics:

Monday, July 25, 7:30pm by the cob courtyard, by the pool.

Whether you have lots of experience with mosaics, or always wanted to try it and never have, come and get involved. If you can't make this meeting but want to be included, please email me:



posted July 21, 2005

Status Updates

Only a couple more weeks for the cobbing, don't miss it!

Plumbing is roughed in, electrical will be roughed in tomorrow, the walls are steadily rising. We've only got a couple more weeks before we quit cobbing and move on to plastering, so don't miss your chance to get your feet in the mud!

It's time to finish the wall

There will be cobbing workshops Monday to Saturday 10am-3pm every week until we're done (free of course). You get to mix that cob with your feet.

posted July 9, 2005

Cob workshops every week Monday to Saturday 11am to 3pm 'till we're done.


We had a fine turnout for our first actual cobbing party today! Thanks to everyone who came out and squished mud between their toes. We've made a good start and now have our plans in place for our ongoing workshops.

Ongoing cobbing workshops:
Monday to Saturday (we take Sunday off)
11am to 3pm


  • format: drop-in, no reservations necessary no experience necessary; children are welcome!
  • If anyone really wants to cob in the evenings, let me know.
  • The potlucks have been delicious; please join us with a dish to share (and something to eat it with)!
  • Child-minding: child-minding for a limited number of kids will be available for all daytime cobbing sessions
  • children are given a yellow shirt for the day with a number on it, to be returned before they go home (make sure to tell the child-minder that you are leaving!)
  • the minder will make sure the kids don't leave the park; parents are responsible for resolving disputes, feeding, diaper changes, etc.

I will soon be announcing a meeting for all who are interested in mosiacs. I will also send out an updated list of stuff we are needing. Check out the pictures at and come on out and join us!


posted July 3, 2005

First cobbing party, Saturday, July 9, 2005!

We're almost done the foundation, so we're gearing up for our first cobbing party next weekend! In case you are interested and available, here's the schedule:

Tuesday, July 5, 10am to 3pm

  • mortaring foundation

Thursday, July 7, 10am to 3pm

  • finish mortaring, clean up the site and prepare for Saturday

SATURDAY, JULY 9, 10am to 3pm

  • cobbing party!
  • we'll be squishing mud between our toes as we mix clay, sand and straw to make the material (cob) for the wall
  • bring your bare feet, and get ready to get muddy!
  • children, adults and everyone is welcome to come and cob


  • bring a contribution (and something to eat off of) for the potluck lunch
  • the work site is shaded in the mornings, so if you are heat-averse, come early!


PS: new pictures of the process at (see the picture gallery to the right)!

posted July 1, 2005

Working on the foundation, July 3rd, 2005


Looks like I'll be puzzling away on the foundation on Sunday, July 3rd, if anyone is interested in coming by. Otherwise, talk to you next week!


posted June 29, 2005

Work Party Thursday June 30, 2005

We made great progress this weekend placing and mortaring the chunks of used concrete that friends and neighbours of the park have so generously donated to this project! Several people discovered that they have a knack for huge, heavy jigsaw puzzles, and enjoyed the rhythmic calm of mortaring.

One work party this week (no evenings this week):

- Thursday, June 30, 10am to 3pm

We will finish laying the "urbanite" and mortaring it together Bring some food to share for the potluck lunch, and don't forget your closed-toe shoes

I'll let you know if I end up being around working on the weekend (in case you are looking for a break from relaxing), otherwise, Happy Canada Day, and enjoy your long weekend!


posted June 24, 2005

Weekend work party can proceed, Sat & Sun June 25 and 26


Thanks to everyone who responded to my desperate cry for concrete, our weekend work party can proceed! Here's the schedule for both Saturday and Sunday:

9am Haulers meet at site

- We'll be going out with wheel barrows and my car to various sites around the neighbourhood to pick up donated used concrete

10am Everyone else meet at site

- With the concrete that has so far arrived, we will start puzzling together the foundation and mortaring it into place.

noon Potluck lunch

- bring some food to contribute to the spread, and a plate and utensils to eat off of

1pm Back at it

3pm Wrap up

We may wrap early on Sunday so that people can be free to see the production of The Taming of the Shrew, part of The Cooking Fire Festival, at the park.

Thanks everyone for your help, and I'll see you tomorrow!


posted June 24, 2005

Used Concrete Needed


Are you tearing out your patio or sidewalk and want to donate your used concrete to a good home? Cob in the Park needs your used concrete! We will be puzzling it together and mortaring it to form the foundation for our earthen courtyard wall.

We need it urgently, as we have a work party on Saturday (tomorrow!) and have run out of materials. Can you help?

We're looking for:

- chunks no bigger than 18 inches across, no smaller than one foot across (some little ones are ok)

- pieces of a uniform depth, four to six inches would be optimum

Please phone me at 416-389-4425 if you have what we're looking for. Deliveries would be amazing, but we can also pick up.



posted June 23, 2005

Work parties Thurs June 23, and Sat & Sun June 25, 26, 2005


A quick update:

Thursday, June 23, 10am to 2pm CONFIRMED!

- sorting through materials that have (hopefully) arrived, starting to puzzle together foundation

Saturday and Sunday, June 25 & 26 TO BE CONFIRMED

- scoring and breaking used concrete, hauling it over the trench and mortaring it into place. I will confirm on Friday whether or not the stuff is coming in time.

Some notes:

- Potluck: for daytime work parties, feel free to join us in a potluck lunch; bring a dish!

- Attire: closed-toe shoes are good, gloves and safety goggles if you have them, hats

- Stuff: for the weekend we are needing the following. If you can lend us any of this, please let me know, since whatever we don't have I will need to buy:

  • plaster's trowels and tools
  • chalk lines
  • crowbars, masonry trowels, cold chisels, 2-3 pound hammers, sledge hammers
  • wheel barrows

Thanks; I look forward to seeing you!


posted June 22, 2005

Work parties Wed & Thurs June 22, 23, and Sat & Sun June 25, 26, 2005


Three work parties coming up:

Wednesday, June 22, 7pm to 9pm

- move some sand, finish off trench

Thursday, June 23, 10am to 2pm TO BE CONFIRMED

- sorting through materials that have (hopefully) arrived, making useable piles of stuff

Saturday and Sunday, June 25 & 26 TO BE CONFIRMED

- scoring and breaking used concrete, hauling it over the trench and mortaring it into place

Some notes:

- Potluck: for daytime work parties, feel free to join us in a potluck lunch; bring a dish!

- Attire: closed-toe shoes are good, gloves and safety goggles if you have them, hats

- Stuff: for the weekend we are needing the following. If you can lend us any of this, please let me know, since whatever we don't have I will need to buy:

  • -- plaster’s trowels and tools
  • chalk lines
  • crowbars, masonry trowels, cold chisels, 2-3 pound hammers, sledge hammers
  • wheel barrows

Thanks; I look forward to seeing you!


PS: Is anyone going out to Oakville by Friday? I need some grog from a pottery supply place out there and am wondering if anyone could pick it up for me.If so, let me know by Wednesday. Thanks!

posted June 15, 2005

Thursday June 16 and (maybe) Saturday June 18 work parties

Our first work party was a smashing success! The foundation has been dug and prepared, and the drainage system installed and half the gravel added and tamped. We are on schedule!

Upcoming events:

  • Thursday, June 16, 10am to 2pm. Adding more gravel to the foundation and tamping tamping tamping! (bring a tamper if you have one.)
  • Saturday, June 18, 10am to 2pm. TO BE CONFIRMED. Finishing up the gravel and tamping, closing up the dry well. (bring a tamper if you have one.)

I'll keep you updated on whether a Saturday workbee will be necessary. Pictures of the work so far will likely be up on by the weekend, so check back then.

Looking forward to seeing you!


posted June 9, 2005

First work parties: Saturday and Sunday June 11 & 12

Here's the schedule and some info about Cob in the Park's first work party. It happens on both this Saturday and Sunday June 11 & 12, and you are welcome to come whenever you can make it, be it for half an hour or for a whole day.

10am Start digging!

noon Potluck Lunch

1pm Back at it

4pm Finish up for the day


Things to bring:

  • your own shovel and/or spade (with your name written on it) if you can
  • sturdy shoes or boots, gloves, and sun protection
  • food for a potluck lunch, and your own plates and utensils
  • instruments, so that you can regale us with music while you are taking a break from digging


  • you can buy your lunch from the foodcart as an alternative to potlucking it
  • we will try to have some childminding available. Let me know if you would like to avail yourself of this service so that I have an idea of numbers
  • the area will be a construction site for a few weeks while the digging and foundation-building are taking place, and there may be barriers and snow fence up to protect children from falling into the trench. Officially, anyone working on the site during that time is required to wear a hardhat, reflective vests and boots. So, don't be surprised if we pass some hats and vests around this weekend!
  • in case of rain, we will try to cover the site with a tarp and keep working.

Maybe we'll see you on the weekend!

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