Edwards & Eve Cob Building is a professional cob and cob-bale builders business in Dorset. Their aim is to empower as many people as possible to build their own affordable and sustainable cob houses and other cob structures.

Their ‘Building with Earth’ project was awarded £12,880 from ESFA Community Training Grants to provide innovative vocational training in cob, and other earth building techniques.

Dorset has thousands of old cob and earth buildings, but there is a shortage of people with the traditional skills required to repair and maintain this local heritage. New earth building specialists are in high demand, and this project aims to train people in the skills required to move into working on earth buildings.

Building with Earth’s first course, as funded by ESFA, was heavily oversubscribed but 12 lucky participants managed to secure their place. Out of the 12 course participants, half identified as having a learning difficulty, disability or health problem, and over half of the participants were aged over 50.

Co-founders, Kate Edwards and Charlotte Eve, found all participants to engage well in the course and thought it highly rewarding to observe positive changes in the participants over the four days.

Kate and Charlotte are staying in touch with the participants and providing on-going support with regards to cob building advice, references and are offering volunteering opportunities for two participants. On completion of the course, three participants have started working on a self-employed basis, three have gone on to do further training / education and another three have taken up voluntary work.

The nine participants who we were able to interview about final outcomes found the course to be a catalyst and spring board into positive new ventures; all are still in touch and supporting each other via a WhatsApp group. Some participants even said that the course was the ‘best experience they had ever had’.

Charlotte Eve, said:

“The course we ran thanks to the ESFA grant was the most rewarding cob course we have ever run. We applied for the grant as we have experienced time and again how life changing working and building with cob can be for people.

We knew the opportunity would hopefully be a game changer for people who’re unemployed and might be experiencing difficult times in their lives – and once again the clay and earth worked its magic.

The participants all came from different walks of life and they brought lots of skills and knowledge to the group which helped with the learning. By the end of the course is was obvious that everyone had grown in confidence and there was a real sense of positive energy and new plans being made by everyone.”