Our Instructors

Our instructors come from all over North Carolina and from many and diverse backgrounds! Each has something special to share.a

Greg Allen

Greg was born and raised in Syracuse, NY. Favorite childhood memories involve camping in the Adirondack Mountains, cross-country road trips with his family, drawing/designing tiny living spaces, building with Legos, and endlessly making art. During his college years – studying Industrial Design - he became interested in pottery, thinking about the human/earth relationship, and working + living outdoors. All these things ultimately led Greg to cob, in the form of a Cob Cottage Company Apprenticeship in 2008 (with Ianto Evans and Linda Smiley). He left that experience feeling passionate about spreading the knowledge and joy of natural building to others.

Greg began teaching workshops in NC in 2009, and co-founded (with his partner, Danielle) the Mud Dauber School of Natural Building at their homestead, in 2014. He loves meeting the inspiring and creative people (from all over the country!) who attend workshops at Mud Dauber. Greg also enjoys working alone or with a small group on natural building contract projects – building things for local people that inspire them to spend more time outside or connect them with the healing power of clay.

Mustafa Barry

Moose, as most people call him, is a passionate advocate of Ecological Design and Building. Moose grew up with earth dwellings and thatch roofs in his native village in Casamance, Senegal, West Africa. In 1985, his cousin, a Senegalese architect, introduced him to the concept of Compressed Earth Blocks. He fell in love with the technology.

His passion of ecological design, food production and transformation led him to study under world renown teachers like Jerome Osentowski (Permaculture - CRMPI) Satprem Maini (Compressed Earth Block Arches, Vaults and Domes – Auroville Earth Institute, India), Will Allen (Urban Intensive Food Production – Growing Power, USA) and Sandor Katz (Food Fermentation – USA), Eric Toensmeier (Forest gardening and Carbon farming).

With a Non-profit organization he is developing (Moose Ecological Design Solutions), he is working on giving back to people of West Africa by sharing skills in Earth building and Permaculture. He co-taught the first Permaculture course in Senegal during the Third International Eco-City Conference held in Dakar-Yoff, in 1996. He believes in simple and low-tech solutions to our shelter, food and energy challenges.

Ken Bridle

Ken Bridle has been a professional scientist for over 40 years. Trained as a botanist with emphasis on plant physiology and natural product chemistry (Ph.D.), these interests have been applied to a variety of projects. He has worked as a natural heritage and watershed inventory biologist, field ecologist, science museum exhibits director and environmental consultant. He has been active with PLC for nearly 30 years as a member, volunteer, consultant, board member and staff member. He is currently, Stewardship Director for the Piedmont Land Conservancy, responsible for easement monitoring and management of over 29,000 acres of land in more than 200 projects.  

He is the author of several county Natural Heritage Inventories (1998-2002) as well as watershed assessments, wetland delineations and rare plant and animal surveys. He has conducted other local and regional conservation research and restoration projects in North Carolina and around the southeast for a variety of groups. He is a founding member of the Dan River Basin Association and the Carolina Butterfly Society and has served on the board and been a volunteer for many conservation groups in North Carolina and Stokes County where he lives. He is a past Chair of the Wildlife Resources Commission, Nongame Wildlife Advisory Committee which helps to facilitate work and listing of rare animal species in this state, a board on which he served for two decades. He is also a past president of the North Carolina Native Plant Society and Past President of the North Carolina Prescribed Fire Council and a founding member of the Triad Mushroom Club. He is a frequent leader of hikes and nature walks and a speaker on local conservation issues.

Vernon Cheek

Vernon Cheek has been a licensed electrician since 1987, and been running his own electrical contracting business (Cheek Electric) since 1995. Vernon does mostly residential electrical work, but also does commercial electrical work. Vernon has worked on Small and Tiny Houses, and has experience working with owner-builders and people doing alternative structures.

Laurie Cone

After three life/career stages of essentially ten years each working as an environmental chemist, staying home with her two sons, and teaching high school environmental science, Laurie quit her job, sold her house, and moved to an intentional community in central North Carolina to homestead with her octogenarian mom to try and live like we have just one planet. This has meant growing and making as much of what they need as possible.

She has been deeply influenced by numerous visits with a community in Cuba, particularly by their generosity, resourcefulness, creativity, and ability, by necessity, to live simply. For the last three years she has enjoyed camping both in her Prius and in a small converted cargo van, which doubles as a guest room for visitors. 

Larry Cooper

Larry has spent a lifetime accumulating knowledge about tools, how to make them, care for them, use them, and teach others about them.   Having spent decades as a professional blacksmith, Larry loves to share his deep knowledge about the value of good tools with others.   Larry has been an instructor at the John C. Campbell Folk School, and led workshops and classes in many different locations on a diverse set of traditional skills from blacksmithing, tool making, ox driving, green woodworking, and much more.

Larry serves on the board of the Deep River Folk School.

Henrietta Cummings

Henrietta Cummings is a local Herbalist. She has been studying medicinal herbs since the 1970’s and wildcrafting and growing herbs using organic methods for almost as long.

Her passions are being with the plants, sharing herbal knowledge through teaching classes and workshops, teaching individuals through hands-on study on the farm, and cultivating a wide variety of culinary and medicinal herbs. She plants at-risk and endangered herbs to help restore them in the wild, native herbs to attract a wide variety of local pollinators, and herbs from around the world to offer a large variety of medicinal herbs and to help these herbs to continue to thrive.

Harvey Harman

Harvey is a green builder, licensed plumber, conservation-oriented land developer, organic farmer, teacher, and writer. Harvey is influenced by his experiences of living in various community settings, including a remote retreat center in the cascade mountains in Washington state, and five years in a traditional, rural village in Southern Africa. Harvey initiated and helped develop the Sustainable Farming Program at Central Carolina Community College (CCCC) in Pittsboro, NC and has taught many classes at CCCC in the past 25 years in Sustainable Agriculture, Permaculture, Green Building, and Construction/Plumbing. Harvey was the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association Farmer of the Year in 1998.

Presently Harvey is the Director of Construction and Land Acquisition/Development at Chatham Habitat for Humanity, and one of his passions is designing and building small and tiny houses. Harvey is equally passionate about developing self-sufficient homesites that produce their own energy, capture rainwater, grow food, and minimize their environmental impact.

Harvey serves on the board of the Deep River Folk School.

Nancy Harman

Nancy Harman is a community midwife who also likes raising food using permaculture principles, and visiting farms around the world in Africa and India and Alaska. A fermentation fanatic, she also knows that the food that we eat is an important part of our healing.

Nancy serves on the board of the Deep River Folk School.

Ben Harman

Ben Harman is a local chemist and nutritionist with a long-standing interest in agriculture, food, woodworking and traditional handcrafts. Through studies in Nutrition and Food Science at NC State University, as well as intructors at the Deep River Folk School, the GreenWood Wright's Fest, and other mentors Ben has developed a useful toolkit of skills and knowledge. Ben enjoys sharing his passion for DIY, healthy living, creative design, and resiliant living with the community

Ben serves on the board of the Deep River Folk School.

Rich Hayes

Rich Hayes graduated from Davis and Elkin College in West Virginia with a BS in biology and studied soil science at West Virginia University before moving to North Carolina. He is a soil scientist with more than 35 years of professional experience. Over much of his career, Rich mapped and classified soils while working on 5 different county soil surveys in North Carolina. As the project leader and principal author of the Soil Survey of Chatham County, he is extremely knowledgeable about our county soils.

Later on, Rich did non-discharge permitting and inspections for the NC Division of Water Resources. In this job, Rich was responsible for conducting site visits to evaluate potential land application sites for their suitability for surface irrigation with wastewater. These permit applications ranged from small single-family drip and spray systems, all the way up to large subdivisions irrigating with reclaimed water. He is now retired after 30 years of service with the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Since 2006, Rich has been an elected District Supervisor with the Chatham Soil and Water Conservation District. Besides his county duties, he is involved with a number of statewide environmental education programs. He currently serves as the Chairman for the North Carolina Envirothon, an environmental contest for middle and high school students. He is also the chair for the Mobile Soils Classroom Committee. There are currently 5 mobile soil classroom trailers that are used to teach students about soils. Rich is also the Vice Chair of the NC Association of the Soil and Water Conservation Districts’ Education Committee that oversees a number of statewide conservation and environmental education programs.

Rich is an active member and past president of the Soil Science Society of North Carolina. In 2014, the Governor awarded Hayes the prestigious Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest civilian honor from the Governor’s Office. 

Nathan Huening

A Texas native, Nathan has been interested in sustainability since joining the Piedmont Biofuels Co-op to make his own diesel in 2006. In 2016, he moved with his wife, Calllie — along with 3 dogs — into a 200 square foot tiny house on wheels that they built together, and in 2019 founded a small pocket neighorhood of tiny houses called Cranmore Meadows. This 30-acre property in Haw River serves as a residential neighborhood, nature preserve, permaculture farm, event venue, and sustainabillity laboratory.

Nathan serves on the board of the Deep River Folk School.

Frank Hyman

Few garden designers have Frank’s breadth of education or experience: he studied horticulture under the late JC Raulston, namesake of NCSU’s arboretum and learned design from  Tracy Traer, Denis Wood and Will Hooker, who has had several installations at the NC Museum of Art. Frank is also a stonemason, carpenter and sculptor; he learned stonemasonry from the late Arch Haithcock of Blue Ridge Stone, learned carpentry from Green builder Mark Marcoplos and apprenticed with Raleigh's first organic landscaper, Bob Mulder.

In his youth Frank farmed organic vegetables in Granville County, picked oranges in Spain and worked as an IPM scout for tomato farmers in SC. He restricts his garden design/plant/build business, called Cottage Garden Landscaping, to what he calls the “bungalow neighborhoods” of inner city Durham and yet manages to stay booked up as much as 6 months in advance. He uses his knowledge to create innovative and beautiful gardens that don’t need babying. Frank has written about gardening for since 1990 in the N&O, Herald-Sun, Independent Weekly, Carolina Gardener, Backyard Poultry, Horticulture and many other magazines. He gardens with his wife, Chris Crochetiere, at Bayleaf Cottage, their home in Durham.

Alice Lloyd

Alice Loyd’s soil-tending credentials are the nearly sixty years of food-growing success in a variety of soil conditions, with twenty six years in the soils of the Piedmont. For several years she taught gardening classes through her project Food Is the Key, and she has coached a number of young gardeners who then became successful food growers on their own.

Since 1981 she has used permanent beds with little soil disturbance, and sometime before that she came to use a mineral-rich soil amendment formula similar to what she applies today in the Living Well Community Garden. This garden has been the source of virtually all the produce eaten by three of the residents for the past four years, and several other gardeners are benefiting from the soil in that site.

David Malloy

David Malloy attended Bob Wesley's Whispereing Pines Archery School. Mr. Wesley is a world class archer and hunter. When Mr. Wesley learned that David taught archery, he gave David permission to teach the methods he learned from Howard Hill. Howard Hill is widely recognized as one of the finest archers in history.

Today David teaches a blended curriculum that covers the basics of archery such as form, release and holding the bow. Once the basics are mastered, intermediate archery covers instinctive split vision aiming, and archery form elements as taught by Howard Hill. Advanced archery covers blind nocking, use of quivers, ranging distances without range finders, animal habits, archery hunting, shooting from elevation, and bow/arrow tuning.

Sherri Powell

Sherri is a believer in permaculture, and has a passion for helping other people learn how to live frugally. Sherri and her husband live on a debt free  homestead that grows animals, vegetables, fruit and nuts naturally. Sherri's background in finance has contributed to their success as well as inspired her to learn skills in all things that make living more sustainable. Sherri has a degree from ECU in Business/Marketing.

Sherri formerly served on the board of the Deep River Folk School.

John Powell

John is a retired scientist from a career that includes 31 years in biotech, pharmaceuticals, and medical research & development, topped off with ten years as a science teacher in the Randolph and Chatham county school systems. This enables him to bridge the industrial/academic/general public gap. John, with wife Sherri, have been designing, constructing and maintaining a sustainable organic farm for the last eleven years. 

On their thirteen acre farm, they practice sustainability through active and passive solar power, growing and preserving their own food (livestock, poultry, fruit and vegetable gardens) as well as constructing cost effective buildings, equipment and furniture from inexpensive readily available materials all of which are designed, constructed and maintained by the Powells. 

One skill John practices is brewing wines from the organically grown fruits produced on our farm. John’s brewing methods follow aseptic techniques mastered during his science career and tailored to the home environment. John also brews beer using hops grown on their farm and other locally obtained organic grains and ingredients.

John formerly served on the board of the Deep River Folk School.

Fuzz Sanderson

Fuz is an endangered species biologist, Earthskills teacher, musician and storyteller. Since 1989 he has followed his calling as a wilderness instructor, naturalist, and research biologist for organizations such as 4H, National Wildlife Federation, US Fish and Wildlife Service, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, US Forest Service, US Park Service, and the Green River Preserve. Fuz coordinated the Earthskills Rendezvous for 8 years, and has now founded the Piedmont Earthskills Gathering in central North Carolina. Go ahead, ask him about birds.

Auburn Staples

Auburn Staples is an NC native who attended NC State for Geology. Although he currently resides in Raleigh, he has spent many years traveling the country fishing, using a variety of techniques to catch a wide range of exciting species. He has now turned his attention to educating others on this rewarding pastime, in the hope it will provide them the same joy and fulfillment that can be passed on to future generations

Steve Tate

Raised on a corn farm in Central Illinois, Steve had a twenty-year career as a Marriage and Family Therapist in Minneapolis. In 1995 his family followed a wild back-to-the-land dream and moved to an abandoned tobacco farm in Randolph County, NC. They started a goat cheese dairy farm called GOAT LADY DAIRY. Their business produced national award-winning cheeses and expanded to welcome thousands of urban visitors to experience the farm and local food.

Steve's interest in and love of storytelling developed as he regaled his guests with stories of farm life and their quest for sustainability. Steve and Lee retired and sold Goat Lady Dairy to two of their employees in 2017. He is now President-Elect of the NC Storytelling Guild and Adjunct Faculty teaching Farm Business Management at Central Carolina Community College. In addition, he is actively involved with Afghan Refugee resettlement in Greensboro.

Ed Witkin

Ed Witkin has been designing and installing solar electric systems for both on and off grid applications since 1987. Throughout this time he has been involved with renewable energy education workshops, teaching engagements, and creating solar displays at fairs and festivals. During the 1990s, Ed and his family lived in an off-grid solar powered post and beam house in Connecticut that Ed built using a solar electric generator to run all the power tools during the construction.

In 2003, Ed and his family moved to North Carolina and started Carrboro Solar Works, LLC, designing and installing solar electric systems. From 2008 to 2011 he worked with Solar Tech South, LLC (Now Strata Solar, LLC) of Chapel Hill, which was a start-up company in need of someone with a background in solar energy.

In 2011, Ed took a position as the Sustainability Coordinator at Durham Technical Community College, where he taught for three years. During that time he and one of his students, Steven Thomsen, collaborated to start the non-profit organization called United Solar Initiative. Ed continues to serve on the board of USI which partners with other organizations and local solar providers to bring solar power to underserved communities domestically and abroad.

Ed lives in Chapel Hill, NC with his wife, Ellen. His two beautiful daughters and three grandchildren also live nearby in Chapel Hill.