Why the root cellar is so important part of our farm? When we settled down in Portugal, our principles were to live us much sustainable, as possible. Just after buying the property, we set up a yurt, to have a comfortable space to live in, before we build up more facilities. But when the late spring came with it’s sunshine, we quickly realized, without the fridge we won’t be able to keep any food for more than couple of hours.
Our farm was already connected to the grid, when we got here. Instead of investing in solar batteries, which is what most sustainable projects in Portugal do, we decided to choose other option. Simply not to use much electricity. Big woodland always supplies us with enough timber, to cook entirely on wood. Showers and garden watering is design to run by gravity. Eventually the only electricity we need on the daily basis, is for light and for charging our computers.
Why root cellar?
Fridge is one of the most energy consuming part of the household. Specially, if it stays in a warm room or with direct sunshine on it. On top of that, it is usually not big enough, if you want to have a big garden and store your crops in a cool temperature. That’s when we realize that the root cellar is a “must have” for us. But there was one more essential element of this decision. We were just about to experiment with an earth bags building, to make a platform for our outdoor kitchen. Look up our earth bag photo’s HERE . If you are interested in more details about this technique, that’s a good source: http://www.earthbagbuilding.com/articles/stepbystep.htm
Obviously we needed large quantities of soil and buying it was the last we had in mind. In permaculture, problem is a solution – and that’s a great example for it. While we dug up soil for the earth bags, we created an underground storage. The next step was just to find a why to cover it.
Franz is explaining the design of our root cellar
The story goes on…
Our root cellar worked out very well through the whole summer, even the next summer. But the winter after that we experienced extreme rainfall, and one day we found our fridge totally flooded. So we knew we had to learn on this mistake and build it from more resistant materials. This time we also made it way bigger, added a drainage, vapor barrier and built the arch from clay bricks, so it can carry the load of the soil on top. All the interior we plastered with earthen plaster, made out of the soil dug right from the spot.
Here are step by step pictures on our second attempt.
Interested in permaculture principals? HERE is how we explain them on exactly this example.