Published by City Farmer, Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture


City Farmer's Cob Shed - It has a Living Green Roof

Sculptor, George Rammell, Donates Haida artist Bill Reid's Clay to Cob Project

"The clay I provided belonged to Haida artist Bill Reid. It provided the form for many of Bill's sculpture projects including the "Whale" at the aquarium, and the huge bronze "Spirit Canoe" at the airport. I also used it for my bear track project where I had a Grizzly Bear walk over 15 meters of clay from which I cast the event. It's great to know this clay, that has such a history on the Coast, now forms the surfaces on your project."

George Rammell, sculpture instructor at Capilano College, worked with Bill Reid for 10 years on 14 projects. Their clay was used to make the clay plaster which covers the outside of the City Farmer cob shed.


Landmarks: A touch of Tolkien Emerges at Kits Demo Garden

Story in the West Ender newspaper. "When completed, the tool shed will have a living green roof, a surrounding bench area and an impressively sculpted cob cooking oven. It will be festooned with a relief sculpture depicting the stratification beneath the topsoil surface: rocks, roots, old fossils, shells and some gnome-like creatures. The door to the structure is a work of art itself, resembling a rounded ship's hull, and several inches thick."

City Farmer's Green Roof on the Cob Shed

Photos of the roof planted, our goat, and Arctic roof gardens from long ago.

cob rafters
cob door

Four Cob Slide Shows Showing How We Built the Shed and Oven

Cob Oven Built
Over the weekend May 23, 24 and 25, 2003, John Freeman, his staff and volunteers (mostly from Mountain Equipment Co-op) built a cob oven at the City Farmer Demonstration Garden. Posted June 16, 2003

Cob Garden Shed Slideshow 1
During the week June 9 - June 15, 2003, John Freeman, Robin and Grant showed workshop participants how to build with cob at the City Farmer Demonstration Garden. Posted June 16, 2003

Cob Garden Shed Slideshow 2
We're still at it and it's now July. Watch the walls go up in this slide show. The roof is coming next! Posted July 9, 2003

Green Roof on our Cob Garden Shed
See all the stages involved in building a green roof. Posted September 12, 2003

We'd like to thank the Vancouver Foundation, TD Friends of the Environment Foundation and Mountain Equipment Co-op for generously helping us with this project.

Map showing the location of our garden at 2150 Maple Street.

Maya image
The virtual image created before the cob shed was built. "The image was created in Maya 4.5. I used a custom light rig to simulate global illumination on the house. The plant-life was done with Maya's built in Paint Effects and finally the image was composited in Adobe's Photoshop." (Thor Lewis - April 2002)

Over 50% of the world's population lives in structures made of earth materials! City Farmer's Compost Demonstration Garden in Kitsilano is to be the site of Vancouver's first cob garden shed. Cob is an ancient building method using clay, sand and straw. Building with earthen materials pre-dates the pyramids. All over the world there are beautiful buildings both ancient and contemporary, built of earthen materials. Only recently is earthen building being revived in North America. There are dozens of houses up and down the Pacific West Coast built of Rammed Earth, Strawbale and Cobb.

cob design

John Freeman of ERTH Design Consultants built a small garden shed (sculptured building) for City Farmer in 2003 for the enjoyment of all garden visitors. City Farmer is an urban agricultural advocacy group in Vancouver BC teaching composting, organic food gardening, sustainability issues and now green-building techniques. This building is the first cob building in a public space in Canada. "We are starting the seed of green building in the core of the city."

"The structure is finished with an exterior clay 'litema', pronounced DEE TAY MA (African natural plaster) and an interior finish of clay-based plaster (south-western roots). Windows, wood work, floor materials, insulating issues, toxicity, electrical/plumbing integration, living roofs, foundations, doors, arches, structural/seismic concerns are all addressed."

John Campbell Freeman - Bio
John Freeman of ERTH Design Consultants is a landscape designer and green builder. John has been involved in numerous green building projects throughout B.C. including a cob garden shed for Lifecycles, an environmental group in Victoria, BC; a straw bale structure for Camp Narnia at Shawnigan Lake; and a cob house on Denman Island. John has also designed and built gardens throughout the lower mainland and Vancouver Island.

For information on cob building, contact:

John Freeman
ERTH design+building+consulting

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Revised Nov. 27, 2010

Published by City Farmer
Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture