Collective construction of a bread oven

From the garden to the kitchen, what could be more logical?

Equipping a shared garden with a bread oven can be the subject of a great collective project!

The "Jardin des Cerises" in France, inspired by the experience of the Spanish Garden "Hort of Xino" has created an ecological and economic collective construction: construction "land-straw."

A video of this experiment was done to allow other shared gardens to easily reproduce this technique.


Objectives of the Good practice 

A great and positive day for the participants.

Provide a useful equipment for the garden, its users and visitors.

A video for other gardens that would reproduce the technique.

Objectives of the leader who implements this practice with his public

This experimentation is a good way to create links between the residents, with the prospect of spending a good time later using the oven.

The type of construction used is a traditional technique from Marocco. This experience promotes intercultural exchanges and participants learn from each other.

Objectives of Grundvig program « Adult education » which matches with the practice :

  • Address the challenges of an ageing population in the field of education.
  • Facilitate the creation of innovative practices in the field of adult education.
  • Help people belonging to vulnerable social groups.


List of equipment required for practice

  • A floor space big enough to mix the straw mixture with the feet (eg a large child’s paddling pool).
  • Water to moisten the mixture.
  • A pre-built base to receive the oven.
  • Dry material (collect in advance, anticipate well, especially in case of bad weather). Indicative quantities:

* 4 wheelbarrows of clay soil, dry sieved (to get rid of pebbles)

* 1 wheelbarrow of straw

* 1/2 wheelbarrow long dried herbs

List of equipment required for each participant

Feet, hands and good mood!


Preliminary steps

- Design and preparation of the workshop Phase.

- Construction of the base on which the furnace is installed.

- Collection of construction materials.


In order to allow the participation of the greatest number, this workshop can be done during the open day of the garden.

In this way, the activity is done with an evolving group: facilitator, participants who remain throughout the workshop, but also curious passers-by who are interested in actively participating. The duration of this participation varies from a few minutes to several hours.

Step by step (the detailed steps are in the video tutorial explaining the technique):

  • Mixing : Add ingredients one at a time: earth at first and then straw, which are mixed together. Then water is added. Then mix the whole (with the feet, it's easier). Keep adding water and knead the mixture until it has the correct consistency.
  • Preparation of the surface: the base on which the oven will rest is moistened.
  • Spread the mixture evenly and thinly on the surface, marking out the center (eg by planting a wooden stick).
  • Draw a circle (around the center), which represent the outer edge of the oven. Make a mark for the oven door.
  • Mark the inner contour of the oven with long grass (weave the long grass inside the circle).
  • Then fill the inside of the circle of dry grass with straw.

Gradually climb up the wall of the oven by following the circle drawn, the straw must remain within the circle (the straw is added gradually as the wall rises). Think about aeration (inserting templates, such as flower pots): one on each side of the oven, another will be created at the top of the oven at the end of construction.

  • While some participants build the wall of the oven, other participants continue to prepare soil mixture straw for the builders.
  • When the oven is finished, you should let it dry (at least two weeks) in the protection from the weather.

To go further - further recommendations and good practices

Combine this good practice with other practices which may be highly complementary: “make a brunch in the garden”; “construction of parabolic solar cookers for shared gardens” ; "edible garden".


Objectives and indicators:

  • Persons involved in the activity (number, cultural background, age, social class, ...).
  • Quality of the atmosphere during the implementation of the activity.
  • Exchanges and mutual support among participants.
  • The oven works well.
  • The video is produced and shared.
  • Persons using this oven (number, cultural background, age, social class etc).


Variation in the implementation :

  • It is possible to use other techniques to make a bread oven. The traditional method (soil-straw) was chosen because it is very economical and environmentally friendly and allows the participation of a wide audience. For example, in the attached documents, you can find the Pompeii oven plans (pdf untitled pompeii_oven_plans).
  • It is also possible to make together other equipment instead of a bread oven (eg good practice relating to the construction of a parabolic solar cooker). If the activity is organized as a collective project, the benefits are quite similar, regardless of the equipment built.