I’m currently in Baja Sur, Mexico on a 4 month adventure and research journey. As I travel this beautiful part of the world, I am struck by how perfect this area would be for bale homes. Unfortunately, there are very few around, and I mean VERY few. I have heard from some who have built with bales here and have heard from others who tried but were told it wasn’t possible by local builders. One reason they were told no is that there are no straw bales in this part of the world. I have not been here long enough to discover if this is actually true, but I can say that I have not seen any so far. There are indeed straw bale homes in Northern Baja, so I know that the technology and expertise to build these homes exists in Baja overall, it’s just not obvious if that has moved into Baja Sur or not.
I have, on two separate occasions, seen pick up trucks driving by with 2-string hay bales on the back. Clearly this means there are bales in the local area and baling machines that create them. I’m not suggesting that one should build with hay, as that would be a bad idea, especially with all the wandering cows; however, it does mean that the ability to make straw bales exists here. The next problem I see is the crops. I have not seen any grains growing here along the main road down. I’m almost all the way to the bottom of Baja and nothing yet. There could be grains grown outside of the main road and certainly further South than I am now as the microclimates and oasis conditions have been prominent on the way South thus far.
I truly hope to see that straw crops are available. If I see that, I’m left with the only issue that could stop the construction of straw bale homes: lack of knowledge on how to do so. That’s nothing new and is something I work with all the time. THAT I can handle. I would be happy to teach people how to build a bale home here. I truly believe that it would only take a few in each large community or town for others to get interested. With summer temperatures as high as they are here, one summer in a friend’s straw bale home could certainly convince most people, especially if they can be constructed in two important ways. 1) They would need to be affordable. We can do that. 2) They need to be built in a way that the local tradesmen understand. There is a lot of block work and plaster here. If we show the installation of bales as large blocks that simply get plastered, it’s a no brainer. We can do that.
So if you know anything about the crops in Baja Sur, please let me know. I would love to see this technology come here and help the local (whom I LOVE, by the way). Such an amazing group of people I have met so far. Smiles everywhere and a helping and generous hand at each corner.