Buddhist Nuns Build Convent Out of Straw

Straw Bale Construction (Chris Rubberdragon / Flickr / CC / Cropped)
Chris Rubberdragon / Flickr / CC / Cropped

Buddhists live a life of simplicity and gratitude, yet even the most simple of lifestyles require the bare necessity of a sound shelter for living. A group of Buddhist nuns in Escondido, California has been working together to build their own convent made almost exclusively from straw, a material that is both economically and environmentally savvy.

Deer Park Monastery, known as the “great hidden mountain,” is home to a group of nuns who live in shacks that are in a dilapidated state–until now. The 400-acre sanctuary draws thousands of tourists annually from around the globe who are seeking a sense of peace, solace and inner reflection that the meditative area offers.

“My room is very small and it’s in the pool house area. It’s the area where people used to change to get into the pool. Underneath my hut, I’d say are the living quarters of rabbits or squirrels. At night, we hear them running around in the bottom,” Sister Ninh Nghiem told ABC News10. These new homes will provide Sister Ninh and her fellow nuns with much more space and privacy.


According to ABC News10, money donations and fundraisers along with visitors who have donated their time to help physically build it have been the primary sources of funding for the sisters’ new straw home. Straw, left behind when grain is harvested, is easy to find and eco-friendly, which makes it an attractive product for this conscientious group.

Straw also takes longer to burn in a fire than wood does because it is packed so tightly in bales that it leaves little room for oxygen to enter and fan the flames. The burn time for wood is an hour, whereas straw could take up to three hours to burn.

Another positive aspect of using the straw reportedly stems from the fact that these straw homes are cool during the summer and lock in warmth during the winter.

The nuns have raised over $1.5 million as of February 28 of this year for their project. Anyone wishing to contribute to this project can make a donation here.

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz


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