When one of your goals is food self-reliance, then a root cellar and cheese cave becomes a priority so that all the homegrown food can be stored for the winter months.
Both roots and cheese require constant temperatures and high humidity while in storage so we thought that perhaps the two functions might be served by one building.
The first step was having our neighbour come in and dig into the hillside with his backhoe. It saved us some backbreaking shoveling and Max is always happy for the work and for the cheese samples that he goes home with!
Next, Sunny lined the walls with expanded metal lathe to stabilize the earth and give something to plaster over.Long spikes were used to fasten the lathe to the walls.
Then the roof was framed with local rough-cut lumber.
Sunny tried a couple of different recipes for plaster before settling on a mix of clay and water.
We used recycled metal roofing over the frame.
Old carpeting, flakes of straw and the excavated soil were layered on top of the metal and this summer we will plant it with grass seed to create a living roof.
Here’s Sunny mudding the walls with earthen plaster.
The ceiling was insulated with flakes of straw between the rafters and then sheathed with birch paneling to keep the straw dry and from falling into the cellar.
The walls were later limed to create a strong “egg-shell -like” finish. A bit of borax was added to the lime plaster for mold prevention even though lime itself is said to be quite impervious to growing mold.
The front walls were built and also insulated with straw. Then the facade was sided with beautiful moss rock collected from within a few feet of the cellar site.
Visitors came for one of our work -weekends and helped to backfill the sides and roof with soil.
The earth-bermed design should keep the cave at a consistent earth temperature throughout the year.