The Endeavour Centre has teamed up with The Seasoned Spoon Cafe at Trent University to build a buried root cellar for the over-winter storage of vegetables grown at Trent gardens and destined for yummy dishes in the cafe.
The earthbag walls for the Seasoned Spoon root cellar are almost finished to the full height.
Ben, Kasia and Justin work on one of the final courses of earthbag for the root cellar. The red tape helps hold barbed wire between the courses, and the ties are used to attach mesh so the walls can be plastered.
The walls of the building are made with earthbags. In this technique, a soil mixture that has good compaction qualities (lots of different sizes of aggregate and slightly moist) is placed into long polypropylene tubes and tamped in place. Also known as “flexible form rammed earth” this technique is just about the simplest, cheapest, most sustainable and most effective building techniques we use at Endeavour. While it requires a lot of grunt labour, it is satisfying work with immediate and satisfying results.
Once the building has its roof in place, the whole thing will be buried in the ground and will become a small, wildflower covered hill on the Trent campus, very close to the Seasoned Spoon. The earthbag arch entryway will be the only visible feature of the building.
Inside, the building will have both a damp and a dry room, for the storage of different vegetables. The dry room will be separated from the ground by a vapour barrier, while the damp room will have a floor that is not sealed from the ground beneath. The two rooms will be separated by a compressed earth block wall. Both rooms will be ventilated by earth tubes, which are long pipes buried deep around the building with an inlet that draws fresh air from outside and a solar fan that provides exhaust. The air in the tubes will be cooled to earth temperature in the summer and warmed to earth temperature in the winter, providing the root cellar with a fairly constant temperature of around 10C.
We will continue to post the progress of the root cellar as it moves toward completion.
If you are interested in volunteering on the root cellar, The Seasoned Spoon is relying heavily on volunteers to help with construction. You can contact us to find out more about volunteer opportunities.