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Earth Sweet Home

is a small non-profit that promotes sustainable building and design through hands-on experimentation and follow-up evaluation. Originally built in 1996 with a second structure begun in 2008, our solar and wind powered straw bale houses are both our experiments and our laboratory. Our mission is to show homeowners and professionals how age-old and alternative building technologies can be used to create structures that are healthy, beautiful, economically viable, and sustainable. We strive to make our findings as widely available as possible; we want to inspire and empower others to surpass our efforts at sustainable living.

In 2008 we began construction on a new building located next to our original Earth Sweet Home, this structure features many of the best aspects of the Earth Sweet Home house- Straw Bale, Local and Natural materials, “off the grid” and energy saving technologies- but also features some fun new elements-  living roofs, an earthen floored solar heat sink, and more contemporary design.  Our website and Earth Sweet Home educational materials are currently being updated to reflect our newest findings and experiences.

Earth Sweet Home believes that sustainable building must:

  • Reduce the use of energy-intensive and unhealthy building materials, such as plastics, foams, and other toxic, engineered products.
  • Use local, sustainably harvested materials, which are usually the most appropriate for the local climate.  Most of our materials come from within 30 miles of the building site.
  • Eliminate pollution both inside and out by using renewable energy and non-toxic cleaning and decorating products.
  • Promote building technologies that support the local community (e.g. using technologies that employ local craftspeople).  Our homes  connect us to real people and places in our communities.
What We Do

We offer tours. If you would like to organize a tour for a business, an educational institution, or some other already established group, please send us an email request expressing your interest. Individuals wishing to see the houses can visit us during the Windham County Solar Home Tour, which is usually in October. Those who are particularly interested and do not wish to wait until the October tour may be able to join a tour which has been organized for another group.  Please contact us for more information.

We will be offering images/information on an updated DVD. Our DVD will contain the complete text of the web site, plus an array of color photos with explanatory captions. Educators will find this DVD to be an excellent and detailed case study in environmental building and students will enjoy the rich visuals. This DVD will also be a useful reference for owner-builders. Educators and those doing presentations on environmental building may be interested in our CD slide show, which includes both the building of the original Earth Sweet Home house and a photo tour of the completed houses. Our DVD and CD are still in progress; check back at our web site periodically for updates.

We do consulting. When building an environmentally-friendly house, there are countless decisions to be made. The process is further complicated by the lack of standard, off-the-shelf products that provide sustainable alternatives. Having gone through this process ourselves, we can help guide you through the myriad of decisions you’ll have to make, and can save you countless hours of researching options and tracking down sources of more sustainable products. We can also help connect you with the appropriate businesses and professionals when need be.

We no longer offer workshops. To learn more about sustainable building courses in the northeast, check out Yestermorrow, Foxmaple, and Earthwood. Those outside the northeast can locate environmental building schools in their area by visiting the web site of Ecobuilding Schools.

Who We Are

Earth Sweet Home is a 501(c)3 located in southeastern Vermont. Juliet Cuming and David Shaw are the co-founders and current directors of Earth Sweet Home.

Sustainable Building + Design

In 1995 Juliet and David began designing and building the all-natural, straw-bale, off-the-grid Earth Sweet Home house in Dummerston, Vermont. The primary building process lasted from 1996 to 1997, although it remains, to this day, “in progress.” While building the house, Juliet and David established Earth Sweet Home to help educate people about sustainable building.

1994-1996 Juliet and David developed a proposal for a 13-part documentary series, Earth Sweet Home,  that would explore the past, present and future of sustainable design and ecological architecture. As part of this process, they traveled throughout the U.S. and Europe to research environmental building techniques.

In 1994, Juliet and David were coordinators for Woodstock 94’s Eco Village. Throughout 1995, they promoted environmentally friendly building and renovation as representatives for Environmental Construction Outfitters, which sells all-natural and low-toxicity building supplies.

In 1994 Juliet wrote for E Magazine’s EcoHome section; she also wrote the “Ecology” section of Random House’s Generation X Encyclopedia Culturescope.

Photography, Film, Media

Since 1998 David has been the president, and Juliet the director, of the Mark Shaw Photographic Archive, which includes the scanning, archiving, exhibition and sale of more than 100,000 photographs taken by Mark Shaw.  Mark Shaw, David Shaw’s father, was a prominent fashion and celebrity photographer throughout the 1950s and 1960s- for more information on Mark Shaw please visit

Before becoming involved in environmental building, Juliet and David were active filmmakers. From 1991—1994, Juliet was a music video director represented by production companies in New York, London and Los Angeles. She directed music videos and “rockumentaries” for Sony Music, Atlantic Records and Geffen Records.

David has worked in the film industry for more than 20 years. He has shot more than 80 music videos and has worked extensively on documentaries, feature films and commercials. In 1990 he shot the environmental thriller No Telling, a landmark feature film that put its content into action by reducing waste and pollution on the set.

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