Rio Vista – Mud Bricks

Hello Garden Friends,

Writing today to share a few highlights from the last month where we learned to make bricks from the soil! This activity was worked into a lesson I usually teach explaining all the things that come from the dirt. The kids seemed to remember from last year, “plants, food, wood, paper, clothes…” usually thinking about all the things that grow out of the soil, and neglecting the value of the soil itself, especially as a fireproof/durable building material. In the featured image you can see what looks like a bunch of kids making mud pies. But let me tell you, these are not just ordinary mud pies, they were formulated with a particular ratio of ingredients: 1 part clay, 2 parts sand, a splash of water, and a hand full of straw. The sand is the base, the sticky clay holds the sand particles together, and when mixed with water the straw acts like rebar weaving the entire mass together!

A week later, after the bricks dried up, we got really cool looking sculptures. If we figured out a way to make the bricks more uniform in shape and size we could really build something together. Maybe next time I come to class I’ll bring some forms and we could make a bench.. or a pizza oven!

Below are some more photos of the process and the dried bricks a week later:

Until next time,

Farmer Jeff

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Jeff Mailes

Jeff Mailes is a garden designer and environmental educator working out of Woodland Hills, CA. A Los Angeles County Master Gardener and UC Davis Alumni, Jeff earned his B.S. in Environmental Resource Science in 2012 and has been growing edibles and natives for the past 6 years.

Jeff’s passion for plants and garden education has led him to school gardens from Los Angeles to Sacramento and all the way up to Portland, Oregon. Now familiar with ecosystems across the West Coast, Jeff has settled back home and works to bring people together over food and inspire the next generation of earth stewards to leave it better than they found it. When not writing about himself in the third person, Jeff enjoys singing with his guitar, going on camping and hiking excursions, and tossing a frisbee around with his friends.