The cover of the new German edition (and my lovely wife Hannah in Canada before we met!)

Out of the blue one day I got a phone call from a guy named Ian Miller. He said he had built a few ovens, baked a fair amount of bread, was married to an Austrian and (among other things) interested in translating Build Your Own Earth Oven into German. With that began an adventure that is now resulting in a new (German!) edition of the book, published by Stocker Verlag, out of Austria (they also publish Austrian permaculturist Sepp Holzer, which makes it even more of an honor). Very interesting to let go of the book and let someone else take it all apart and put it all back together again in a language I can’t read or speak. But in the process of doing it, I realize there are some good stories I haven’t yet shared — not about translation and books, but about ovens and their people. So, while it’s late (especially in terms of giving credit where it’s due for previous projects) I hope this will be a start.

Starting with the most recent (and hoping for a chance to profile each person in greater detail), folks and their stories include:

Ian, who not only translated the book, but got the whole project going.

Rainer Warzecha, an artist and builder in Germany who has helped with the translating, and also contributed photos and stories of his wonderful work in Berlin’s Britzer Garden for Dig Your Hands in the Dirt. His website is— worth looking at!

Hendrik Lepel, a German born builder and jack of many trades who’s building ovens and teaching mostly out of ireland, and who read the German text. His website is

Holger Laerad, a Canadian of German heritage, who builds many beautiful things of mud and wood, including ovens, heaters, and more. I don’t think he has a website, but if he does, I’ll get it added on…

And Elke Cole, a German architect and mud-builder living in Canada, whom I’ve known for years now, and who one year sent me amazing photos of amazing mud work in Germany (at Britzer Gardens, which is how I began a correspondence w/Rainer, who not only contributed to but also helped tremendously to improve the layout and design of Dig Your Hands in the Dirt.) Elke spends a lot of time traveling, working and helping in Africa, but also took quite a bit of time, from the sounds of it to help Ian with the translation. More about her and her work at

Thank you thank you thank you all!

more later…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *