Welcome to the Freeville Earthship, located outside of Ithaca, NY! Please feel free to explore our site for thousands of pictures and in-depth posts about our process building an earthship.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Spring/Summer Update

It's been a busy warm season with limited time to get projects done.  Solara welcomed her new baby sister, Lyra, in April so most time is devoted to them.  Aside from that, the region has had the worse drought in recent memory. We are currently about 7" below normal for the year and it looks as if we're going to fall way short of the 36" annual average.  We've heard reports of wells going dry in the area...a region that has no experience (or need) with water conservation...a wake-up call for everyone.  Our cisterns are currently a little under 1/4 full (about 1500 gallons) in spite of this.  Lots of people have been asking us about our water levels and I think they're surprised.  I was planning on cleaning out the East pair of cisterns this summer but I postponed due to the lack of rain to recharge them.


Solara - 2.2 yrs  Lyra - .3 yrs
Our perennial food systems are starting to kick in - I spent the spring planting lots of berry, fruit, and nut trees.  The currants and elderberries did ok - looks like a bad apple year though.

Our outside gardens haven't been very productive this year - water rationing, kids, and travel have taken a toll.  Lots of Kale, chard, garlic, potatoes, and tomatoes though.

Reworking our Zone 1


Late season greens and herbs for now.  Excited for this bed next year.

Also turning the area on the West end into a garden area.  I've struggled with this area because I don't want seasonally-shed leaves ending up on the roof and gutter.  Annual veggies should work.

Small retainer wall with leftover timbers from the barn construction.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Winter Update

It's been a fairly mild winter in the Northeast with only about a foot of cumulative snowfall where we exist.  We did however, have one weekend where it reached -20F but we were very cozy because it was sunny and over 80 degrees inside in the greenhouse.  As of early March, we've gone through about 2 full cords of wood for heating and cooking.  This winter we gave several tours to school groups and individuals interested about Earthships and eco-architecture.  We're expecting our second little girl in late April so we'll be trying to get several projects done as soon as the weather breaks so stay tuned.

After 2 previously brutal winters, we were prepared for a fight.

Tried the new Finnish LeverAxe.  I think I still like my Gerber Splitting axe better.

Oranges are ripe and blossoms are popping everywhere!

Still trying to master the best bread recipe for the wood-fired oven.

Transplanted a coffee plant into the greywater reception cell...in 6 years, I may have a cup of hyper-local coffee.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Summer/Fall Recap

Summer went fast and today's snow prompted me to finally do another update.   This was a very bizarre year in that we didn't get a frost before the first snowfall....and we even had a little accumulation.   Anyway, back in early summer I noticed something "off" in terms of power production with the PV system.  Upon further inspection, it turned out that 1/2 of our 2.8kW array was not producing consistently and at times not at all due to a malfunctioning charge controller.  Outback Power was great though - sending out a new one within a week.  Another highlight this summer was that I crawled into the two West cisterns to scrub them out (maintenance that should be done every 2-3 years.  I'll do the East pair this spring after we draw enough water out of them.  Here is a quick recap of what we were up to this summer and fall.  Many of the major building tasks are now done and we are focusing on family life and developing our permaculture farm outside.  Here are the highlights....


We finished the final coat of plaster in the back hallway and bathroom but left a truth window to show the can walls.

Solara loves spending time outside - she's now 17 months old!

Lots of good produce this year! 

First time trying sweet potatoes.  They were huge!

Its that time of year where the west interior bottles light up.


Tap system installed with natural refrigeration!  This Earthship proudly pours Hopshire brews.

Firewood split and stacked!

We got a decent amount done on the wood-fired oven exterior.  Hopefully we can finish this up next spring.

Time to start cooking with wood again!

We built our hen-mobile and meat chicken tractor this year.

The tractor currently houses 11 turkeys.

We've moved all of the potted citrus inside for the winter....winter tomatoes just starting to form.

Our "in-ground" mandarins are starting to turn orange.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Spring Update

We are very happy to see spring approaching.  Its been a cold, snowy, polar-vortex winter here in the Northeast.  The Earthship kept us warm though.  Many people and municipalities experienced burst or frozen water pipes this winter....far above average.  We, however, didn't have a problem in that department.  We had a day of -25 wind chill but it was sunny so the greenhouse was over 80F.  We burned about 2 full cords of wood in the wood-fired oven this winter for cooking and to bring the temp. inside above 70F.  The exterior earth-bermed hoop house performed OK but still dropped into the upper teens inside on the really cold nights.  Its currently on par with Zone 8 but I think i can tweak a couple things this summer to make it better next winter.  I'm excited to grow vegetables and root crops in there this year

25 hens have started laying lots of eggs.

Herbs and sown seeds.  We had tomatoes into Jan last year and plan to grow a lot of annuals alongside the various citrus and avocado.   Between the greenhouse and exterior hoop house should give us some serious food come harvest.


This spring we plan to finish up the remaining plastering jobs inside.  

Under the wood-fired oven proved to be a great place to start seeds.

Solara Jade....9 months in, 9 months out.

50 meat chickens!  First of 3 rounds this year for our newest endeavor: Tapped Earth Farm!  Follow us at http://www.facebook.com/tappedearth for the latest news and pictures.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Want to Spend the Night?


Our Earthship B&B is back up and running with select dates February-June and any date July-August!  This includes a full tour and our time to answer any questions you may have, and a home-cooked breakfast for you the following morning:
https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/1249134


Friday, November 14, 2014

Autumn Update

As we creep into winter, I am reminded how awesome the thermal properties of an Earthship are.  The low sun quickly heats the place right up.  On overcast days, we start a fire in the wood-fired oven.  We cook in it a lot though so its pretty much on every day.  The oven-powered radiant-heat floor in the back hallway keeps the granite slabs in the floor hovering around 80 degrees - warming the rest of the 'Ship.  This saves us around $3000 a winter on heating costs.
In the greenhouse, we're raising this year's batch of egg-layers.  They'll be laying in March.

The exterior greenhouse is pretty much done (done enough for the winter anyway). I need to thank Courtney DeVoe for putting in overtime taking care of Solara while I finished it up. Early data suggests roughly an 8 degree difference in nighttime temperature between the South-end entryway and the earth-bermed tirewall North end. I'm looking forward to seeing how it performs in sub-zero temps. My cold-hardiest citrus (navel orange and mandarin) are already planted at the south end. They can handle down to mid-upper 20s. At the North end will be the more sensitive citrus (Limes and Grapefruit) to take advantage of the passive geothermal heat.
 In the end we used 150 tires, about 2000 cans, and about 2000 glass bottles. Thanks to everyone that saved us bottles. This is also the beginning of a multi-phase farming experiment that will hopefully help establish a college fund for Solara.



The chicks have been moved into the exterior greenhouse until they are big enough to ride out the rest of the winter in the coop.
 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Summer Update

Solara loves to bounce now - 4 months old!

The indoor garden is much more lucrative than the outdoor.


The lemons are just starting to turn!  (Pretty stoked about this.)


The greenhouse has turned into a huge project.  I am scrambling to get the thing enclosed by sub-freezing temps.


The main holdup is acquiring bottles.  I'll go through close to 3,000 by the end.

This year, I will only be overwintering a navel orange and a mandarin - my 2 cold-hardiest.  If they survive I'll plant lemon and lime cultivars as well.  Since there will be no additional heat source, I have no idea how this will work.
My favorite flower so far.








Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Around the 'Ship

Our baby girl, Solara, is loving life in an earthship.  She loves the natural light and colorful bottle walls.  We can't wait to see what each new day brings with her and someday soon she'll be running down the greenhouse hallway.





Also, here are a couple more photos of the wind turbine Chad put up!  It looks pretty cool!