Eco Learning Center

10277 Bingham Rd.
Traverse City, MI 49684
Phone: (231) 620-4775

For More Information Contact:
Jayne Leatherman-Walker

Workshop Schedule 2010 and Beyond

Log into Facebook and do a search for the Eco Learning Center to become a fan and receive calendar updates.

Woodworking for Homesteaders
“A Handmade Life”
 These workshops will be taught by Matt Joppich and hosted at the Eco Learning Center by Jayne Leatherman Walker. The Eco Learning Center is located in beautiful Leelanau County and is dedicated to teaching the skills necessary for sustainable living.

July 24th and 25th                  Simple Tools and Techniques for Homesteaders
“From forest to home – From spoons to fences” This class will start by teaching uses of different tools and maintenance of those tools. From there you will learn to fell a tree, split and cut lumber, carve a spoon, build a fence and make a stool. This knowledge will allow you to return home with the confidence to tackle woodworking projects with reckless abandon.

August 14th and 15th              Women’s Woodworking for Homesteaders
This class is for women only and will teach everything covered in the above workshop. A true woodworking retreat for women!

September 4th and 5th             More Tools, Techniques and Projects
A continuation of the first workshop. Here you will learn to advance your skills and build tables, chairs, chicken coops and small out buildings.  (prerequisite - workshop 1, 2, or instructor approval)

October 2nd and 3rd                         Building a Modern Yurt
In this class we will build a wood walled, insulated yurt. These yurts can be made from small chicken coop size to one large enough to comfortably house an entire family.

There is camping available on the property and there will be a workshop potluck each Saturday night with a campfire to follow. This is a total weekend experience.
     Weekend workshops $100 each             Contact Matt Joppich at 231-883-3616
     Space is limited                                        Email -

Simple knowledge and skills of working with wood will help build and maintain your home, farm or business and satisfy your soul. For trees provide oxygen, shade, heat, food beauty and wonderful wood.

Buildings in the works

The Eco Learning Center is a 40 acre parcel, 50% woods, 15% dunes and reforesting hills, 25% farmable land. This is sacred ground. Any project created here must integrate with the ecosystem and be proportionately scaled to the ecological footprint. The goal is to demonstrate man's ability to live within the biological system maintaining human dignity and a reverence for the natural. Design will focus on using renewable resources and available building materials or recycled building products.

  • A library - currently a small strawbale greenhouse, the building will be renovated and turned into an insulated library. The roof needs to be reinforced, the inside plastered, a clay floor installed and a heated bench created.

  • A herb drying and seed saving building. This is a strawbale structure created from the frame of a corn crib. The inside and outside have been plastered and await a lime coating. A clay floor will be created and the roof insulated.

  • A bioshelter. Winter growing has great potential to extend the growing season and increase production in Michigan. The main challenge that needs to be overcome is one of finding a way to warm soil temperatures.

    A bioshelter is a greenhouse that is modeled after the natural environment, that takes into account the body of heat of chickens housed within the building, the heat produced by composting and heat retension from sunlight in thermal mass, as well as the importance of gas exchange and growing medium. The skeleton of this structure will be timber-frame.

    A section of the rear shed portion has been raised and boxed in to house batteries for the solar and wind system as well as the pressure tank for the irrigation system. More timbers need to be raised to complete the shed portion.

  • The Food and Friends building: a food building/demonstration center in which CSA members can gather, where food can be prepared for pickup and classes in natural cooking can be offered. This building will also provide housing for future volunteers and interns. Design-wise, it will be a combination of earthship and strawbale construction with a timber-frame. Our goal is to create community and an enhanced network of communication in the design process and implementation of the designs. The design process was begun in the 2005 Green Building Design Charrette where experts in sustainable building design facilitated a four day intensive planning session at the Eco-Learning Center.

  • A caretaker's cabin.

Bioneers: Ninth annual Great Lakes Bioneers Conference

hits Traverse City, on October15-17, 2010. Click on logo to link directly to site.


Download a copy of the 2009 PDF flyer for past gatherings and workshops.

See the poster for past greenbuilding design charrette.
Dan Chiras, author of The New Ecological Home and Rusty Smith, Assistant Professor of Architecture at Auburn University began the planning and design process. Design professionals and community members interested in green building attended this four day planning session.

See the poster for past Women's Frame Drumming Class
Facilitated by DeDe Alderman: 231-276-BEAT or