Kumano Shindo's Resident Ecologist Carolina Carvalho (right), mixing adobe material for cobb oven with Todd Van Horne, a workshop participant who lives in nearby Tanabe City, Wakayama Prefecture.
On July 31, 2022, we successfully concluded our first Kumano Shindo Work Day. The event took place at Kumano Shindo’s headquarters located in Idocho, Kumano City, and included activities to promote the area and environmental education. Headed by our representative director, Adam Lobel, we welcomed participants from the local community, Australia, Portugal, and the USA. After a warm-up activity to kick start the day, Kumano Shindo's Regenerative Programming Manager and Resident Ecologist, Carolina Carvalho, led the cobb oven workshop. After the workshop, we served home-cooked focaccia pizza to our participants before proceeding with the Satoyama maintenance activities for the rest of the afternoon.
Carolina Carvalho (extreme right), having lunch with Work Day participants.
Making a Cobb Oven in Your Backyard
Completed cobb oven built during our inaugural Work Day.
Primarily using adobe, Carolina demonstrated how anyone could make a cobb oven in their backyard or any available space. Adobe is a type of building material made from sand, clay, straw (or grass), and water, which is then dried and baked in the sun. It has a long history as a construction material, especially in desert regions like the indigenous Southwest and the Middle East.
Here are the simple steps on how you can make your cobb oven:
Step 1: Determine the size you want for your cobb oven
A typical size would be 40 centimeters in diameter. The height is 75% of the diameter.
Step 2: Build the layers of the cobb oven
Once you've determined the size, build the sand dome mold using masonry or building sand. Pile up the sand until you get the correct dimensions. Place a layer of wet paper to keep the sand from sticking to the adobe (clay) layer. Mix water with adobe to get a malleable clay consistency that you can layer on the sand dome mold.
Step 3: Mark the oven door
After layering the clay, mark the door for your oven. Once the clay layer has dried, cut out the oven door and remove the sand and paper layers. Your cobb oven is now ready to use!