Week 2 at Cob Camp – Planting, rescuing, cooking and eating food. And making stuff out of leather…

Week 2 of the cob building course was (nearly) all about FOOD!! Planting food, skip diving for food, cooking creatively, making a stove and oven, eating, discussing… it really seemed to be our focus all week!

After our first skip dive at the local supermarket bin, we organised the camp kitchen and enthusiastically embraced communal cooking with our rescued food. We made scrambled eggs, with smoked salmon and goats cheese, frittata, salad nicoise, salsa, potato salad, creamy pesto pasta, coleslaw, ratatouille, couscous, nettle and goats cheese quiche, garlic pizza bread, chocolate brownies, spaghetti and more… but the best creation all week was Sunset Bin Crumble with Sam’s Special Sauce. This cob-camp specialty was essentially apple and rhubarb crumble cooked in Mr Oo (the cob oven we’ve recently made).  The crumble was made from delicious, rescued bright pink biscuits and butter. The sauce was Samantha’s inventive concoction of cottage cheese, 2 small crème brulees, 2 small fig yoghurts and 2 tablespoons of speculoos all blended together. Everything was rescued food. The dessert went down a treat and was dished up just in time to welcome Marco and Linda to the course.

This week I taught the group how to make a no-dig garden using the sheet mulching technique often used in permaculture.  Everyone enthusiastically gathered materials, created a beautiful 4 leaf clover shaped bed and planted seedlings – tomato, basil, parsley, thyme, lettuce, cabbage and silverbeet. Sammie even found a geranium which had been thrown away so we added it too.  Nearby, Anita planted mint and rhubarb. I felt so happy to build soil together – to plant food and nurture life that sustains us. We started up a compost pile nearby but at the moment this is more a source of food for the chickens than a proper pile :). Here are some photos and the explanation sheet I drew up:

We also learnt how to make a rocket stove this week. We’ve been cooking on this simple but highly effective stove all week – much cheaper than gas bottles and much faster than the electric hot plates!  It is made by cutting a hole in an old oil drum, inserting a metal pipe with a bend down the middle and out of the hole, adding a small metal sheet in to the pipe and stabilising the pipe with sand.  You add crumpled paper and wood on the top shelf of the metal sheet and light your fire!


Alex and Katie joined us toward the end of the week and got involved in starting a proper sized cob oven. We love Mr Oo but he’s not really big enough. I’ll give you the details of how we made our new oven next week…



Not food related, but this week Sammie also taught us how to work with leather, studs and snaps to make cuffs and bags.  We all made our own cuffs but I’m hoping to help make more for Sam and D to sell at the markets.  I really enjoy theses workshops for how we naturally and enthusiastically share skills – we learn, teach and gain experience.




Lastly, and probably most importantly, an update on the cob house! This week saw great progress. Wayne dug another mixing pit so with 2 mixes on the go, building the walls was quick! We managed to get to the height needed to put the windows in. Meanwhile, logs of oak needed their bark stripped so the roof could be constructed and hopefully put in place next week. D and Vicky in particular made an outstanding effort doing this physically demanding task. Next week all of us will be focussed on the roof. The cob is as high as it can go at the moment since installing the windows would make getting the roof in place very difficult. Here is a selection of photos from the week:

As the cob house is built, as we nourish our bodies with amazing rescued food and as we nurture creativity through sharing skills, it’s a good reminder that great things come from COLLABORATION.  Too often it is COMPETITION that is viewed as the driver of excellence and innovation – but perhaps this is also what causes expectation, disappointment, waste of resources and exploitation of people…

Rescuing all of this food from the supermarket’s bin made me think about food production and distribution in our society. When you next buy food at the supermarket, look at it and ask yourself these questions before you buy it… Where did this food come from? Who grew it? Do they have enough food themselves? Was it grown with seeds from large corporations like Monsanto? Was it sprayed with chemicals? Pesticides? Fertilisers? Was it transported here by plane/truck/boat? Was it refrigerated en route? Is it packaged? Who is the company branding it? Selling it? How has it been stored in the supermarket? How long has it been stored? How was it processed? What will happen to it when it’s past its validity date?

Then… ask yourself what will happen if you buy it. Do you actually support the practices the company producing it use? Do you really want the substances in the food inside you? How do you feel about the conditions of the people growing that food for you? Will you eat all of it or will some of it get thrown away to go into landfill? Or will you compost it?

For those of you who find it disgusting to eat perfectly fine food rescued from bins, think about how disgusting it is that people far away living on very little, degrade their own environments, getting into debt to buy seeds, fertiliser and pesticides – slaves to corporations… meanwhile other peoples’ lives and environments are impacted by mining of resources partly so that your food can be packaged, transported and refrigerated to where you live… so you can eat some of it and throw a lot of it in to landfill where it becomes anaerobic, letting off methane in to our atmosphere and contributing to an unstable climate! Oh! And don’t forget that most of this is to make profits for companies… now, for me, THAT’S disgusting!



  • aoristus

    This oven looks fantastic!
    Is it really that quick? Doesn’t the sand need to heat up first? Or is the sand simply insulation around the fire?
    Very interesting stuff over all.


  • Stamp

    MMM – So you’ve decided to stop buying food from supermarkets because of all the reasons you stated but have no problem taking the food you didn’t buy after it is thrown out from the supermarket!

    Me thinks there’s some pretty flakey thinking going on in this dumpster diving COB camp. What other unmentioned organic substances are you comsuming?


  • Making Sense of Things

    Hi Stamp… I personally wouldn’t want to consume this food for a long time for my own health reasons as stated in a previous post, however, I think the process of discovering how much waste there is for myself is rather interesting. Thanks for your comment! 🙂


  • Making Sense of Things

    Hey Aoristus! The sand in the rocket stove is really just to keep the pipe stable as the flame at the top is pretty strong to cook on and we don’t need to trap the heat as it’s not used as an oven.


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