Breaking Ground on the Root Cellar

January 30, 2012

Root Cellar

digging a root cellar

The large F-450 comes rumbling up the driveway with a trailer in tow; it carries the black and yellow Case backhoe that will unearth the root cellar that Laura and I have been planning for several years now. The day has finally arrived when the first steps toward our dream for an underground storage area for our fresh produce and canned goods will begin.

The Lost Art of Root Cellaring

My great-grandmother had a root cellar under her house. When I was young, I remember going down into the cellar to retrieve a canned item for lunch. It was a neat, yet foreign place to me.

Back then, it was much more common for homes to have root cellars either beneath them or close by in the backyard. Having a way to store fresh produce for the long winter months was important. More people grew their own food back then, relying less on monoculture farms hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away as a source of food for their dinner tables. And a root cellar was a good way to have crisp carrots in December and farm fresh potatoes in February.

Our Root Cellar

We feel led to get back to that lifestyle of self-sufficiency as part of our prepping. We’d like to be able to store months worth of fresh produce along with vegetables that we’ve grown and canned.

Our little farmhouse has been standing for over 100 years now. Unfortunately it was not built with a root cellar underneath and adding one after the fact is not an option for us. It would be too expensive and time consuming. So we opted for the remote version.

Digging a root cellar

The backhoe operator is digging a large hole approximately 200 feet from our house. The hole will eventually house the 12′ x 20′ root cellar.  It will have gravel floor that is 2 feet deep in most places. There is a channel down the center of it that is 4 feet deep to allow excess water from exceptionally heavy rains to have a place to drain.

root cellar for prepping

The side walls will be cinderblock so another channel for the concrete footing will be dug to support the structure. The top of the cellar will be a concrete slab that will eventually be the floor for an outbuilding of some type. It will be more or less level with the surrounding area, only slight mounded up to allow for better drainage.

squaring the root cellar

The root cellar will have a concrete stairway that leads down to the underground room. These steps will be concrete as well with a door at the top and at the bottom of the stairway.

We’ll post more pictures along the way as our new cellar begins to take shape.

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7 Comments on “Breaking Ground on the Root Cellar”

  1. Beck Says:

    I would have loved to be there for the entire construction of the root cellar. So neat to see it in progress when I was up there. Can’t wait to see the finished product. Praying for some dry weather so that can happen soorner rather than later.

    I remember Mama’s root cellar so well. Too bad newer houses don’t have root cellars.


  2. Jeff Says:

    How exciting for you guys!!

    Congratulations on breaking ground!!



  3. 101st Airborne Division Says:

    We are in the exact same situation. We saved for 3 years to build out our fresh water 110 ft well which already is tied into the 30×100 greenhouse and this year will feed our newly constructed fish pond. I have studied root cellars for 2 years. I have settled on the same design as yours only going to make mine 12×30 to match the outdoor covered country boy kitchen which will have a lean to roof off of the back end covering my slab which is the actual roof of the (hopefully this summer) newly build cellar….I would really like updates on your project – I would gladly send you mine after I copy everything your doing!


    • Joe Says:

      Sounds like a great layout 101st Airborne.

      We’ve got more posts on the root cellar project scheduled. Will keep you posted on the progress.

      Thanks for the comment!




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