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.

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:

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!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Spring Update

Here is a quick update of some of the things happening around the Freeville Earthship.
Solara is adjusting to her first month of life!
The Greenhouse is alive with Peppers, Broccoli, Tomatoes, Greens, Strawberries, Artichokes, and we have baby Meyer Lemons.  The Avocado tree has put on lots of new growth as well and should start producing next year.  Water flow in the house is so efficient that we find ourselves running faucets to fill the greywater planter this time of year.

Outside we're currently establishing a "food forest" for humans, birds, and pollinators.  Pictured is yellow sweet clover, elderberry, and currants
To supplement our winter energy needs, we're putting up a small wind turbine that should deliver about 30-40 KWH per month
With any free time I'm currently building a 12'x 50' underground greenhouse.  Not knowing how it'll actually turn out, I'm hoping that it stays above freezing all winter long.  More progress pics on this in the future.