Cato’s Earthbag Project in Mexico

Cato’s Earthbag Project in Mexico – No participation fee for accepted volunteers.
Cato’s Earthbag Project in Mexico – No participation fee for accepted volunteers.

Hi There
Well, I am not in Belize, but not too far. I am working on a social project in Chiapas, México. Visit Moradas Verdes

We accept volunteers with a minimum commitment of three weeks. No participation fee. The communities offer very simple food and accommodation, I share my superadobe experience with you and you bring your personal stuff, lots of energy and good-will. The work as well as the living conditions are tough. If you have problems adapting or have a “bad-back” this is not for you. Overall, it is very interesting and rewarding.
Send me an email if interested.
Best regards

Note: Cato helped translate the Spanish version of my Earthbag Building Guide. (I wonder if he ever got a final copy?)

12 thoughts on “Cato’s Earthbag Project in Mexico”

  1. We are looking to move to Chiapas in the next couple of mos! We are looking for someone to build an earthbag home for a family of four. Please get back to me if you or someone you know can help.

  2. Hi Owen
    Gracias for posting MoradasVerdes project. We are working hard down here in Rural Chiapas. We still have 8 more kitchens to build, and time is a factor now.

    The method-technique I am sharing is sooo simple and straight-forward that the results are pretty much the same, no matter who builds it. Just for this project, I’ve worked with about 26 farmers, 17 high-school students and 9 international volunteers, and almost none of them had previous construction experience.

    The basic scheme is this: I go to a community,(all the paper work done before-hand) gather a “raw-crew” of six farmers, (each one a beneficiary) we team up and build one kitchen for each one of them. I start with a 1 or 1 1/2 hour theory “class”, then we just go ahead and get dirty building the first kitchen. It will take us approximately 9 days for the walls and roof. We work about 7 steady but not stressed hours per day, (this is Mexico after all!) , By the 3rd kitchen, we are able to do it in about six days. Then, I move to the next community and the now, “ripe-crew”, build the remaining three structures themselves. (i just do quick check-up visits each afternoon, right after I have started the whole thing over in the next community). The first interior-exterior coat of plaster takes about two days, I do it with them, then they do it themselves. (here the results differ a bit, but nothing huge).

    I also post flyers around San Cristobal, Chiapas well known tourist town, to attract volunteers. The three-week minimum commitment helps to separate the “real volunteers” from the no-so-willing ones.

    As things happen, we built one in a small town vocational school, (the students being trained in block-cement construction). Then, I took the students to a community where there were only two beneficiaries (therefore not an available crew) and built the kitchens with (and for) them. (the students get credits and “social-service” hours to fulfill graduation requirements).

    The word got out, and we were approached by another voc-school in another town. We had no budget to build one at the school, but six students “volunteer” all the same (they also get credits and “social service” hours) and joined me in building two more kitchens for complete strangers in a community away from their own.

    After six months, my body is soared, I am learning a lot, and even-though there have been many, I mean, many up’s-and-down’s, my spirit feels fit.

    It is clear to me that it will take a lot more than a rural kitchen to change the “construction paradigm” in rural Chiapas, and I do not expect that all of them will make the technique their own, but I feel that Moradas Verdes is planting the seeds for better construction alternatives in areas where it is most needed.

    Love and best wishes for your construction projects to all of you.


    ps. pls, feel free to contact me directly at I will contact you as soon as possible.

    • This is very inspiring, Cato. You’re doing great work and hanging in there month after month. The hardest part of development work is making lasting change (not just building something for someone with outside money and resources). It sounds like you’re doing it the right way and getting a lot done. Let me know if I can be of further assistance. I will email you soon if you don’t write me first.

  3. Hi Owen
    i just got your blog forwarded to me by a friend and would like to find out how you project will be going for I’m from new zealand and finish my work contract mid april and than planning to travel with my 11 year old son to germany maybe via mexico
    if it would be suitable I’m a hard working man and would love to learn earth bag building
    to built our own house later regards

  4. Hello Cato,

    My name is Guerline Mcean. I was refer by Cindy Neill. I am interested in volunteering with earth bag and or any other projects.

    Thank You

  5. Hi there, You’ve done a great job. I’ll definitely digg it and individually recommend to my friends. I’m sure they will be benefited from this website.

    • Cato’s project is a great opportunity to learn earthbag building for almost free. There are travel expenses, obviously. People often spend thousands of dollars to learn construction skills, so this is a real bargain. It could also be an interesting cultural experience with the right mindset.


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